From Ron Ehmke, Buffalo Spree Magazine, 2011.
Maria Sebastian, Truth Gets the Front of the Line
This clear-voiced singer-songwriter has been on the WNY scene for a while now, and Sebastian’s last release, Yellow Envelope, was Spree’s Best Local Album of 2009. A perfect crystallization of her strengths as a vocalist, lyricist, and crafter of memorable melodies, that one was a hard act to follow, so it’s not really a diss to say Truth isn’t quite as immediately irresistible. Even so, its best moments—songs like “Let Her Go” and “There … I Said It”— grow richer with each successive listen.
This time there’s a loose structuring device: Sebastian tells us the album is “dedicated to those who have inspired me in life and literature,” and the CD artwork and liner notes evoke such disparate role models as Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Harvey Pekar, and Harry Nilsson. Lyrics get a little overly didactic here and there, but the melodies are invariably solid (I defy you to get some of them out of your head) and the basic concept is intriguing. Singer-songwriters are by nature an autobiographical lot, so it’s fun to watch one create a self-portrait through songs and stories about other writers.
"Brilliant set..." - Amy Wellock, Club Cafe, Pittsburgh
05/08/09 Hudson Valley's The Daily Freeman Review of Yellow Envelope: Maria Sebastian
ALBUM: "Yellow Envelope" A winner of numerous Buffalo Music Awards from Clarence Center, New York, Maria Sebastian checks in with "Yellow Envelope." This journey starts out with the nostalgic sounds of a scratchy old vinyl record singing, "if you were a drug/if you were a pill/if you were a dare against my character and will/I would take you now" in a pop-rock style. She doesn't limit herself to one style, though. In the intimate, crystal-clear "Snow," Sebastian sings, "I shoulda learned to drive in the snow." "Goin' Away" is a bit aimless and wobbly (even though it has a killer guitar solo in the outro). But happily, she gets back on track with the country-tinged "Happily." A fast-paced "Everything Reeks of You" sports some wicked "My Sharona"-style octaves. Sebastian shows off her range and power in "Wings" and "Falling Through the Cracks." "In Our Bed" is tricky, yet effective as she sings almost alone for more than two minutes, and just when you think it's safe to put your feet up, the full band comes roaring in. With her lovely voice and clever way with words, Sebastian has a great record on her hands here. Eclectic and diverse, it's not only retro in sound, but in the way she jumps around from genre to genre without a care ... as it should be. David Malachowski is a guitarist, producer and freelance journalist living in Woodstock.
Roger and Camilla McGuinn
For fun: Roger records Audioboos and has included Maria in his plugs
(Turn your volume up for these--they are quiet.)
"I wish I wrote it!" - Nashville Songwriter Kim Mclean on Maria's 'The Driver's Side.'
"If Maria Sebastian doesn't soon eclipse Natalie Merchant and any other voice from the Buffalo region, I'll be amazed. Her writing is both spooky and bold, and the sound of her voice will make you leave your comfortable bed and go sleep in the woods. She haunts you like that." -- Author/Filmaker Joel Gardner (Son of John Gardner)
05/21/09 CD Review for Yellow Envelope- By Bob Silvestri Her stature as an artist is evident if only by the guests appearing on Yellow Envelope. Review of Songs I Wrote in the Car "I adore Maria Sebastian. As a singer songwriter she is up there with the best. As a live performer she has never failed to entertain me whether in a cover band, solo or with her own band." "Maria Sebastian is one of the area's most accomplished singers. 'Maybe It's Just Me' furthers that claim...This woman sure knows how to sing the heck out of a song!" - Bob Sylvestri (bestofwny)
05/01/2008 Maria's interview and live performance for Buffalo Avenues. Was edited and run again on Morning Edition (WBFO)
"Hard to say what's most impressive about the latest release from this veteran singer-songwriter: the high production values, the tremendous variety from track to track, or the sheer emotional range of Sebastian's voice and lyrics." Buffalo Spree awarded Maria's Yellow Envelope with "Local Album of the Year" in 2009.
"Sebastian is one of the most talented rising artists in this area." - Shaun Smith, Artvoice - 2007
From Camilla and Roger McGuinn's blog page: (Written by Camilla.): "The previous time we were in Buffalo, Roger and I were walking through the Walden Galleria Mall and heard the sound of a wonderful voice drifting our way. The mall was celebrating something, as malls often do, with a stage and music. An attractive woman was standing bravely on stage by herself singing her heart out to shoppers passing on their way. We stood by a store window and listened to her last song. Roger loved her voice. I approached her and asked her name and contact information telling her that my husband would someday like to have her as his opening act. Later in the evening at Rockwell Hall, I mentioned to Jeff, the promoter, that Roger would like to have Maria Sebastian open for him the next time he played the venue. Jeff was familiar with Maria and made a note of Roger's request. When this show was scheduled, Jeff arranged for Maria to be on the bill. I opened The Buffalo News on March 30 looking for advertisements for Roger's show. The headline that I saw on the front page of the entertainment section was, "THE WEEK: Maria Sebastian is a storyteller with a guitar." Mark Sommer, a reporter we have worked with for years, interviewed Maria about how she became the opening act for Roger McGuinn. She told Mark about the day a woman approached her about opening for her husband but she didn't recognize the musician's name. That night she Googled him and was shocked and embarrassed. She wasnÕt the first one to be caught unaware by this quiet troubadour. Maria was the sparkling local celebrity singing to a happy hometown crowd at Rockwell Hall on March 30, 2007. Roger enjoyed listening to her through the speakers in his dressing room. I enjoyed musicians coming to my "lemonade stand" and letting me know when they would be performing at the mall. There were a lot of smiles leaving the venue that night."
"Maria Sebastian and her band opened the show and made it clear that the only thing separating them from the headliners was a contract rider and a tub of beer backstage. Sebastian, like (Sarah) Harmer, is an elegant, emotive singer, and her songwriting is strong as well. The band smoked, kicking Sebastian's gorgeous 'In Our Bed' square in the pants halfway through the arrangement, and subtly extending the melodic and harmonic possibilities during other pieces of the all-too-brief set. Sebastian plays around town regularly, and you should see her."
Jeff Miers, Buffalo News Music Critic 7/7/05
"Opening the (Richie Havens) show was Maria Sebastian, a talented, singer-songwriter with a great sense of humor."
Dan Herbeck, Buffalo News.
"Sebastian is one of Buffalo's best-kept secrets. With material as good as this, that ought to change soon."
Mark Sommer, Buffalo News - 2007 Buffalo News, 2009 (Music Awards)