Maha Jeffery isn’t an anonymous name in the Malaysian music scene. Though he’s now flexing his talents in the UK, his husky vibratos never really left the halls of Merdekarya – embedded to the wooden palettes along with the smell of cigarettes and tuak. His rock project, The Maha Jeffery Band, incited more cheers and singalongs than many KL-based bands working that stage, so when he decided to fly off, there was certainly a big void to fill, a big, empty hole that was usually occupied with energetic cover of Bohemian Rhapsody. Maha is a great rock singer, but an acoustic folk one? Who would’ve thought.
Maha Jeffery’s Changes EP speaks for itself: a decision made by Maha himself, to shift his hard-wired musical direction to a genre so mellow, honest, and raw – stripping off all his rockstar power for heartfelt tunes.
The 3-track EP starts with ‘Used To Be’, a strong rock ballad decorated with unlikely grunge elements in the intro. The track is a powerful call-to-action, suited for rocky relationships, waiting for Maha’s raspy vocals to glue the pieces together. However my personal favorite will be ‘Not My Place’, which sounds like a potentially-memorable tune for pubs to play before they serve the last few pints a la Billy Joel, and knowing that Maha is currently based in UK, this might be possible.
Looking at the current Malaysian music landscape, Maha Jeffery’s album might not explode in Hael Husaini fashion here in our beloved tanahair, however, the interesting bit about this record, is that Changes may just be more well-received in the UK, where rock is soaring, and people still call Liam Gallagher some sort of God. I feel that the Brits may be able to appreciate Maha’s art better than Malaysians who, for the most part, get distracted easily by songs made by celebrity millionaires.
Maha Jeffery’s brand of folk rock is definitely not contemporary. You won’t expect to listen to it on Malaysian radios, but Changes’ unwillingness to follow the textbook of Malaysian trends makes the EP a fresh record for the masses. Is it a good change? Absolutely.