Album Review: The Maytags — ‘Meriweather’

  • 88

If Des Moines R&B combo the Maytags had followed up their 2016 album Love Lines simply by revisiting their proven formula, it would still have been a welcome chapter in their developing story. Love Lines was a standout in a landscape of retro R&B albums.

Instead, their latest album, Meriweather, shows a band working to push the needle even further in developing their sound. Although busy schedules prevented the band from reconvening to write like they had for Love Lines, signature elements of their sound are still present — the horns, the bumping bass, the stabbing rhythm guitars. The soulful vocals of Dustin Smith are still front and center: He has a distinctive style, with fringes of hoarseness that lend a bluesy honesty you can’t ignore.

But as leader Smith explained in an email, “I really wanted to push the sound of this album in a different direction … I wanted to use instruments that we hadn’t really used before, like synths and vibraphones.”

Tracks two and seven — “Shake Down” and “Weekend” — show this new sound firing on all funky pistons. The songs are stripped back to a groove of drum and bass with the rest of the instruments along for the ride. Squiggly synths and disco beats recall the purple ’80s production of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (responsible for The Time and Janet Jackson’s early albums).

“Next to Me” has strings carrying the melody with Smith alternating between a smooth rap and the singing that he drops into as he builds to the chorus: “Come get next to me, when you come around / You’re my ecstasy, when the lights go down.” The fantastically lush disco song is parts Barry White and parts Jamiroquai.

The lemon yellow cover of Meriweather reminds us that sunshine is within reach, and with summer in Iowa upon us, a soundtrack for the beach, patio or driving around should start here. “Are you ready for the weekend?” the Maytags ask on track seven. Yes, yes we are.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 268.

  • 88

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


40 Years Forward:

A Celebration of Empowerment & Hope

Deb Talan of "The Weepies" will begin our night of celebration with a story of survival, empowerment, and hope told through words and song. Join us in remembering our past and envisioning the future at the Coralville Mariott.


Friday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m.

For 18 years...

Little Village has been telling the truth and changing our little corner of the world.

If you can, help us head into the next 18 years even stronger with a one-time or monthly contribution of $18, or any amount you choose.


A collaboration between The Englert Theatre and FilmScene


Help us build the greatest small city for the arts in America—right here in Iowa City. Learn more »

Donate Today

Strengthen • Grow • Evolve is a collaborative campaign led by two Iowa City-based arts nonprofits, The Englert Theatre and FilmScene that seeks a major reinvestment to strengthen the arts through modern and historic venues, innovative programming, and new models of collaboration.

Little Village's

From Aug. 1-Sept. 30, cast your vote for your favorite places, people, eats and entertainment around the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area.

Don't forget to explain your picks! The best answers will be published in LV's Best of the CRANDIC issue, out Dec. 3, 2019.