Hymn for Her

Year of the Golden Pig

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Philadelphia has long had a reputation for being an R&B/hip-hop type of town; even people who have never been there associate the Pennsylvania city with names like Jill Scott, the Roots, Beanie Sigel, Eve, Jaguar Wright, Bahamadia, and Boyz II Men. But Philly has plenty of alternative rock activity as well, not to mention folk-rock, singer/songwriter, and coffee house activity. So if you are going to make the unlikely transition from hip-hop to folk-rock -- which is what Pierce Temay (also known as Pierce Ternay) and E.J. Simpson did -- Philly is a logical place to do it. After being part of a promising but underexposed early-'90s alternative rap group called the Goats, Temay/Ternay and Simpson went for a change of direction when they formed the folk-rock trio Maggi, Pierce & E.J. (MPE) with singer Maggi Jane. And in 2008, Maggi and Temay/Ternay maintained their involvement with folk-rock as the male/female duo Hymn for Her. The duo heard on Hymn for Her's first album, Year of the Golden Pig, is two-thirds of MPE; Hymn for Her is Maggi, Pierce & E.J. minus E.J., and stylistically, this 2008 release isn't a radical departure from MPE even though Hymn for Her is more stripped down and minimalist. Maggi and Temay/Ternay still provide acoustic-oriented folk-rock that is as subtle and understated as it is substantial. Maggi is far from a belter; her vocals are delicate and restrained, but emotionally, she has no problem getting her points across on intimate performances such as "Highway Maggi," "Sugar Monkey," "Yer Flower," and the Latin-flavored "Tatiana." Subtle, dry humor is an attractive part of the equation on Year of the Golden Pig, and Maggi's use of understatement is perfect for a less overt type of humor. Admirers of MPE's work should have no problem getting into Hymn for Her.

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