Welcome to Blog Number 3
“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” ― A. O’Shaughnessy
In this weeks blog I thought I would give you a little insight into some music that I’m listening to at the moment. I found it hard to choose so I decided to narrow it down to my three favourite female artists who currently inspire me. These are artists I find my myself continually coming back to for inspiration, but I will point out that there are a vast array of musicians who I am influenced by, and I am always eager to discover something new.
Artist: FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE
Favourite tracks: ‘QUEEN OF PEACE’ // ‘LONG AND LOST’
The first album I ever remember buying (with my own money) was ‘Lungs’ by Florence and the Machine. I think I was actually drawn to the album cover if I’m honest, but I’m certainly glad that this time I had judged the book by its cover. I sat for many hours listening to this album when I was in high school, hooked on ‘Rabbit Hearted Girl’, ‘Howl’ and ‘Blinding’. I even went on to buy the piano book so that I could learn them. The songs themselves are fairly simple and poppy but she seemed to be doing something different from the usual pop sound, incorporating the harp, tribal drums, and powerful choral harmonies with these strange lyrics that I couldn’t decipher. She went on to release ‘Ceremonials’ and although I didn’t connect to it as well as the first album, it still holds a place on my iPod and I will often give it a listen, especially ‘What the Water Gave Me’.
However when she released ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ last year, I seemed to be completely oblivious and it wasn’t until this summer that I found myself searching for something new to listen to, and a friend of mine suggested this album. After a few listens I found myself falling in love with it. I’m not sure what it is that has made me so obsessed with this particular album, I think it might be the dreamy atmosphere whilst still exploring this dark and ominous sound and continuing with the tribal and anthemic vibe.
Florence Welch also created ‘The Odyssey’, a short film, with Vincent Haycock that sits alongside the album. Somehow watching the songs interpreted this way makes the music, and Florence herself, even more intriguing. She is certainly the most theatrical of the three artists, but I think this suits her perfectly. Having a character for each song takes the imagination somewhere else making it far more dramatic and brooding which I love.
Artist: THE STAVES
Favourite tracks: ‘MAKE IT HOLY’ // ‘BLOOD I BLED’
A few years ago I saw the Staveley-Taylor sisters, better known as The Staves, support Bon Iver in Manchester. The three sisters captivated a whole arena with only their soaring harmonies and a guitar and I was bewitched by their voices that seemed to just blend and flow in perfect harmony with each other. Their voices always sound perfectly and naturally arranged, that it’s almost spooky how they are all so in sync with each other. Telepathy anyone?
At this point in their career they were playing songs from their first album ‘Dead & Born & Grown’, which oddly I liked but didn’t love. Seeing them live though mesmerised me enough to continue to follow them.
Then, March 2015 rolls round and the release of their second album ‘Blood I Bled’ stands before me. This album was recorded with Justin Vernon (the creator behind Bon Iver) so I was desperate to hear the album knowing he had played an influential part. The single release ‘If I Was’ immediately had my attention in a different way to when I had seen them on stage. The sound is so much bolder with experimentation of instruments, such as military drums and synthesisers, which thankfully never obscure the harmonies due to Vernon’s careful production.
Their songs had definitely progressed to a far more sophisticated sound and feel with this album that I am very happy about! I had possibly matured a bit more myself by this point and could appreciate what they were trying to achieve. I have since seen them support Angus and Julia Stone, then again on their own tour where they played their songs from the new album with a band, adding a whole new dynamic to their beautiful sound!
Artist: MARIKA HACKMAN
Favourite tracks: ‘YOU COME DOWN’ // ‘LET ME IN’
One day my Dad called me downstairs to listen to a track he thought I would like (as he often does) and presented me with a song called ‘You Come Down’ by a girl named Marika Hackman. Not only was I instantly intrigued by her unusual name, I was immediately taken by this completely mysterious and mesmerising voice, enhanced by beautifully, dark lyrics. Oh, her lyrics. Never have I been so in love with a songwriter’s words. They are so poetic and full of gloom, that I can’t get enough of them. I’ll admit that for the most part I have no idea what her lyrics are supposed to imply (which I know can often put people off a song) but this is what makes me like it even more. What is she trying to say? What does she really mean? It’s left to the listener to try and piece together the story that is being told, and it’s likely they’ll never complete the puzzle. Lyrics are always something I focus on when I hear a song, and however much the melody is amazing and catchy, the lyrics can still be a deal breaker. Clever, poetic words will always captivate me, and Marika Hackman is the top of my list for this (if I hadn’t already made that obvious).
Now for the musical content. Listening to her music just the once, it’s likely that you wouldn’t be able to sing back what you had just heard. But after enough listens, her twisted and eerie melodies will seep in and you’ll find yourself being followed around by them. Her debut album ‘We Slept At Last’ came out in 2015. The songs tend to be stripped back to her acoustic or electric guitar accompanied by strange and unusual sounds with just the right amount of instrumentation to perfect it. There is often a ‘Gothic’ feel throughout lead heavily by her harmonies and explored further with organ drones.
I was actually lucky enough to meet her when I saw her perform at Stoke’s Sugarmill. The whole evening consisted only of Marika and a selection of her guitars and there was no need for anything else, other than to immerse yourself in the ethereal gloom of her music. For any fans of Laura Marling’s earlier works, this will be right up your street. Let’s say the majority of her songs are melancholy and if you have ever listened to any of my songs, you’ll know that that suits me just well.
So there you have it, just a snippet of some of my favourite musicians at this moment in time – though I’m sure they’ll be sticking around for a good long while! If there are any artists you think I’d like to hear, drop me a link in the comment box, as I love to discover something new! Please keep an eye out on my blog for future live events, thoughts, memories and music related passion.