A supremely versatile musical force who has deftly balanced her 15-year solo career with songwriting and producing for major artists (Bonnie Raitt, Dixie Chicks, Edwin McCain, Art Garfunkel), Maia Sharp finally gets around to fully producing one of her own projects -- to both heartfelt and rousing effect -- on the poignant and poetic yet frequently quirky Change the Ending. Considering that her previous collection, Echo, was helmed by famed producer Don Was, taking full charge was a risky mission, but one she delivers beautifully on with the help of top musicians Linda Taylor (a guitarist who frequently accompanies Sharp on the road), drummer Matt Chamberlain, and bassist David J. Carpenter. The set begins with the whimsical, percussive first single "Me After You" -- about the one she leaves emerging something of the victor -- before Sharp resigns herself to accepting a little less from the next guy, meeting him emotionally in "The Middle." While most of the tracks are in the classic singer/songwriter style, with varying tempos and sparse arrangements, the focus is on her incisive and witty lyrics; one stylistic exception is the horn-splashed, deliriously jazzy "I See Cecelia," which she wrote with her father, songwriter (and the album's mixer) Randy Sharp. The jazz vibe continues on an all-instrumental remix of the track "Buy My Love" featuring Sharp herself on sax and horn arrangements (the original version features her vocals). Another unique track is the inspirational "Standing Out in a Crowd," a Sharp tune originally recorded in a more lighthearted fashion by Trisha Yearwood. Sharp's darkness in the verses adds a depth that takes the song to a level Yearwood's (still good) version doesn't approach. No need to Change the Ending on this solid, diverse effort, which will make Sharp's fans hungrier for more jazzy touches in the future.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran