blush cover

You may know the name Maya Hawke, or at least recognize her face. Either on the small screen as the spunky, breakout “Stranger Things” character Robin Buckley, or in big-screen appearances in films like “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” 22-year-old Hawke has been slowly carving her path towards stardom though not just movies and television, but also through avenues of modeling and music. With her debut album “Blush” out now, the world is set to witness Hawke at not only her most vulnerable and unfiltered but also at her most impressive. In a thoughtful and versatile twelve tracks, Hawke has emerged as much more than a pretty face or a supporting act. She’s looking to hone her identity and come into her own as an artist worth talking about.

Some may also know Maya Hawke as the daughter of two famous Hollywood actors, Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. While she has strayed from the spotlight brought upon by her parents’ fame for many years now, Hawke still bears the privileges and expectations that often come with being the child of celebrities. She doesn’t, however, seek fame and fortune in the shadow of her mother and father, but rather through her own achievements. Even as she continues to snatch up roles in acclaimed television series and films by Quentin Tarantino (who collaborated with her mother on the iconic “Kill Bill” films decades back), Hawke doesn’t yearn to be defined by the characters she plays on-screen either. She seeks to escape the public perception of what’s expected of celebrity children and break out as the clumsy, poetry-loving kid from New York she grew up as. With an album bursting with self-exploration, reconciliation and finding strength in the variety of meanings music can hold, Hawke seems primed for a career among the sound waves.

Breaking out early this year with singles like “By Myself” and “Coverage,” Hawke quickly established herself among artists like Joni Mitchell and present-day Taylor Swift, drifting somewhere between melancholy and whimsical experimentation. Her soulful, folk musings floating alongside poetic lyrics of self-reflection and nature, she sought to wear her artistic inspirations on her sleeve. Her own contemplations on love, isolation and other themes come into focus with the remaining songs on the record. Individual journeys between tracks like “Animal Enough” and “Menace” emerge as Hawke questions how she wants the world to see her, whether or not she should hide her emotions or display them, or if she should mold herself into something someone can care about. This juggling of identities helps Hawke shape her voice into one not afraid to inhabit the grey area between who she is and who she’s expected to be. While there is a maturity and ferocity present in tracks like “Animal Enough” and “Hold the Sun,” there is also great vulnerability among the tracks that see Hawke coming to terms with what kind of artist she wants to be. 

Ultimately, “Blush” is an ambitious journey into the Maya Hawke you may not know, a journey that captures her raw talent for contemplative folk-rock, rather than any sense of entitlement from her upbringing. The album, even as it recalls past musical inklings in its production, finds Hawke combating the relevant emotions bottled up inside her in this uncertain time we are all living in right now. Tracks like “By Myself” ponder on what might be going through your head when you are alone, while others beckon towards the outdoors we yearn to explore again. Despite Hawke finishing the album late last year, long before we were ever told to stay at home, “Blush” might make for essential listening as we all ruminate on what things we find value in and how that value informs the people we become.

A collaboration between Maya Hawke and producer and musician Jesse Harris, “Blush” is available to stream now. It features singles “By Myself,” “Coverage,” and “Generous Heart.”     

Rating: 4/5     

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