Photo: Cesar Balcazar
mxmtoon's music is akin to an emotional revelation. The project of 19-year-old artist Maia, she has built her career on turning her most vulnerable moments into points of shared empathy for her ever-growing legion of fans. These sonic diary entries came to life in her lauded 2019 debut album, the masquerade. And now, once again, mxmtoon illustrates her undeniable promise as a singer and songwriter more than capable of capturing the hearts and feelings of a generation.
dawn builds on the masquerade to present a more fully-realized picture, one rooted in transforming deeply personal experiences into universal glimmers of hope. In Maia's own words, "the idea for dawn came from my personal challenge to write songs about the self, but to shift the focus outward and channel a sense of optimism and hope."
This idea is immediately realized in the previously-released "fever dream," a vivid and swelling ballad carried by lush orchestration and mxmtoon's bittersweet lyrical reflections. "Take another look before it goes / Days are only footprints in the snow / How far away can I walk 'till I'm way too far from home / I wish I knew, I wish I knew," the words flow out as a serene reminder to appreciate every fleeting moment.
Similar notes of uncertainty and optimism unfurl as mxmtoon continually wears her heart on her sleeve throughout dawn's seven-track run. However, at no point do Maia's heartfelt sentiments ever begin to feel one-dimensional or limited in scope. The electropop-infused soundscape of "lessons" practically bursts to life, while the tender "quiet motions" plays out with an unapologetic honesty that is nothing short of infectious.
There is a transfixing dynamism to every moment of dawn, blending lyricism that borders on poetry and soundscapes that call to mind wistful daydreams. As the final seconds of "used to you" to fade away, mxmtoon brings to life the promise of a generation-defining songwriter.
Listen to dawn below: