Album Reviews

Maisie Peters – The Good Witch

(Gingerbread Man/Atlantic) UK release date: 23 June 2023

Already something of a veteran of stadiums and arenas at 22, this focused second collection shows that she’s becoming a bit of an expert in addictive little pop tunes

Maisie Peters - The Good Witch You’d be forgiven for thinking Maisie Peters is actually a lot older than her 22 years. It’s now seven years since she started uploading videos on YouTube, and the rest is history. Signed to Ed Sheeran‘s record label, one album under her belt (2021’s You Signed Up For This), and she’s already something of a stadium and arena gig veteran. Anyone who’s watched the Apple TV+ series Trying will also have heard her songs on every episode of the show.

Those songs were quiet, wistful and unobtrusive, and if The Good Witch is your first exposure to Peters, then you may be a bit surprised. There are a couple of acoustic ballads, but the album leans heavily towards energetic pop, sometimes sounding like the missing link between Avril Lavigne and Carly Rae Jepsen.

It makes for a more focused collection than her debut – which stylistically bounced all over the place, and ended up a bit of a mess – and there are several tracks which demonstrate that she’s becoming a bit of an expert in addictive little pop tunes. Body Better is an early standout, playing on the insecurity and vulnerability that comes with seeing an ex-lover move on, while You Lost The Break Up is a more positive spin on a relationship collapsing – big, shiny pop designed to make you sing along and punch the air.

Like her mentor Sheeran, Peters knows how to write a memorable hook. Her love of Taylor Swift is evident on many tracks too, with You’re Just A Boy (And I’m Kinda The Man) sounding a deadringer for Swift’s Red-era material, while Run is a witty, infectious warning to young girls when prospective boyfriends display red flags in relationships (“If he calls you up, says he’s so in love, and wants you in his life forever… run!”).

That said, there are still some flaws to be found on The Good Witch. At 15 tracks, it’s way too long, and Peters’ songs do tend to lapse into the formulaic at times. A couple of the tracks at the end of the album, such as BSC and There It Goes may have been better saved as B-sides, as the end stretch of the album is a bit of a slog.

There are also times when Peters’ admiration of Swift is a bit too obvious – on the opening title track, she launches into a spoken word section towards the end just like Swift used to have a tendency to do occasionally. There’s nothing wrong with seeking inspiration from one of the best, but at times Peters comes a bit close to sounding like a tribute act.

Yet Peters’ target audience will barely care about that, especially when bellowing along to fun, knockabout anthems like Watch (with added F-bombs to make it a bit edgy for the younger listener). Peters is a very likeable songwriter, with a real talent for coming up with memorable couplets – Coming Of Age’s “If it was a first kiss, how come it felt like snakebite”, just one example, which makes many of her songs stand up to repeated listening.

Although she’s not quite there just yet, with a more stringent editor, and a producer who could get the best out of her (Max Martin would seem a lip-smacking prospect), Maisie Peters is undoubtedly on her way to producing a truly great pop album.

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Maisie Peters – The Good Witch