In 2021, Maple Glider released one of the most accomplished debut albums in recent years, and yet she still feels under-appreciated.
It might seem silly to say this when you consider the acclaim To Enjoy Is the Only Thing did receive at the time. It was 3RRR’s Album of the Week, a Feature Album on PBS FM; The Guardian named it as one of the best albums of 2021; VICE, NPR, NME and many more publications gave it high praise.
But there could have – should have – been more, and how Maple Glider – the singer-songwriter project of Tori Zietsch – didn’t get one nomination at the 2021 ARIAs remains baffling.
Two years later, she returned this week with her first new music – aside from a recent spirited cover of Shania Twain – since that debut record, and it’s more of the same from Maple Glider, in a very positive sense.
“Don’t Kiss Me” is a quietly moving indie folk track that builds slowly, carefully, and carries with it a stinging message, a counterattack on unwanted sexual attention and the objectifying gaze.
“Sometimes my own body / Doesn’t feel like my body / But definitely don’t kiss me,” she sings hauntingly and harrowingly; “I was just a baby until you made me into a lesson to be learned,” she whispers.
“I didn’t think much of this song when I wrote it,” Zietsch concedes. “I had a terrible recording of it on my voice memos where I wailed out of key, and it got buried somewhere in there for two years or so before I uncovered it again.
“I felt so connected and ready for it when I found it again that I started playing it regularly at shows. It’s a song about consent, and the experience of being predated on by older men as a girl/young woman. I think many of us are aware of that strong urge to say ‘fuck off’ and be left to our own.”
Although it feels reductive, the temptation always exists to compare Maple Glider to Julia Jacklin. They both craft melancholic and moving indie folk; they both possess genuinely imposing voices that can tear your world apart; they both battled religious upbringings, albeit to differing levels of suffocation. There’s a reason they’ve performed together in the past.
But “Don’t Kiss Me”, and it’s hilarious comic-horror music video (watch below), are proof of Maple Glider’s uniqueness; Australia should just know how lucky it is to have two contemporaneous singer-songwriters performing individually at such an extremely high level.
Excitingly, Maple Glider’s return isn’t a brief one, with a sophomore album expected to be released later this year. Perhaps that elusive ARIA Award is just around the corner.
Maple Glider’s “Don’t Kiss Me” is out now via Pieater / Partisan Records.