Mara Levi (Mah' ruh Lee' vee) is the one-night stand Elvis Costello and Liz Phair never had—an amalgamation of bluegrass, folk, pop, and jazz, trimmed in a faux hawk and studded with a diamond-sharp wit. "What Are You?," her second solo CD, is intentionally eclectic and directly confronts the notion that anyone can be easily defined, or that people should be expected to have an answer to the question, "What Are You?"
Mara recorded every track on the album from her home in DC, using only instruments that she could play herself. The result is an album that sounds less like top-40 radio, and more like a reflection of Mara's varied musical interests. Many of the background vocals were arranged to mimic vocal groups from the '40s and '50s; bass parts run the gamut from simple bluegrass to actual countermelodies; improvised trumpet and vocal parts join open voicings of common chords to add elements of jazz; one song takes its structure and background vocals directly from Johannes Brahms; old and new voicings and sounds combine to give the album a complex and very human range and diversity. www.maralevi.com