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March 2017

LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALL

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LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALL, March 12th: Picture the stage of Manchester’s Albert Hall dressed as an enchanted garden, adorned in ivy garlands and white flowers, which are entwined around the instruments, microphones and speakers, and you have yourself the backdrop to Laura Marling’s set as part of her Semper Femina tour. Laura herself floats on stage in an angelic white dress paired with leopard print ankle boots holding her beloved acoustic guitar. The scene is completed when the blue hue of the stage lights glows across the secret garden and a five piece band follow Laura in tow

LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALL

Being a huge Laura Marling fan, I am part of the 2,500 people in the room who cheer as she begins the evening. She starts with her latest single Soothing, to which a ripple of excitement expands across the audience, welcoming this powerful folk song, lead heavily by the bass. It’s the perfect opener for the set, introducing the crowd to her newest music with arguably the strongest song from the album. It is also the song I am most familiar with from her new collection and immediately I am hooked for the night. The latest album is an exploration of people’s thoughts and understanding of women, hence the album title Semper Femina translating to ‘Always Woman’. It turns out that Marling has had this phrase tattooed on her leg for a long while now, so this album may have been a long time coming.

LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALLFollowing a strong start, she glides into her next single The Valleys, before she finally addresses the audience. It is well-known that Laura is a woman of few words on stage and lets her songs do the talking and I’m impressed to find that everyone is right, there are no need for words. Her stage presence and the delivery of her music is bewitching and to speak would only break the magic in the room.

Although Laura Marling is the centre-piece, sisters and backing vocalists, Emma and Tamsin Topolski, verge on stealing the spotlight with their mesmerisingly beautiful harmonies that soar throughout the hall complimenting and filling out the sound around Laura. This isn’t to diminish the band at all, the skills of the bassist (who swaps between electric and the acoustic double bass) guitarist and drummer are admirable as they enhance Laura’s songs (which I think must be a hard thing to do!). However, the highlight for me, and possibly every other Laura Marling fan in the room, is the solo section of her set. Stripped back to just Laura and her guitar, which is how she began her career as a 16 year old, she proves to captivate and entrance the entire room. I’m delighted when she plays on her own, especially two of my favourites; What He Wrote and I Speak Because I Can, alongside new song Nouel and Daisy from her previous album Short Movie. On occasion there are a couple of blips that are actually endearing and comical rather than unprofessional, especially when she turns to guitarist Simon who accidently slips up and jokes ‘Behave yourself, Simon!’ to which the audience burst into a fit of laughter.

LAURA MARLING AT THE ALBERT HALL

Another magical moment for me occurs when the band re-join on stage to play Sophia, especially in the second half of the song where the band and harmonies kick in and a feel good atmosphere roams the room and the foot tapping begins. This happens also with older song Darkness Descends, as contrary to the title, the upbeat melody and quicker pace of this track, emphasised by the band, encourages a roar from the admiring audience.

Towards the end of the set Laura explains her encore rules; ‘we don’t do them nor do we expect them’ which could all be doom and gloom for an enthusiastic audience who could un-doubtly stay and listen to her bewitching vocals and impressive guitar playing all night. However, as the guitar strums the opening riff to firm favourite Rambling Man the crowd (myself included) explode into applause and cheers and we all know we’ll go home happy having Laura Marling end her extraordinary show with a song as beautiful as this.  I hope it’s not too long before I can return to see this magical woman again.

M xx

FEBRUARY PLAYLIST 2017

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What I’m currently listening to

FEBRUARY PLAYLIST 2017

February Playlist 2017

ARTIST: Fil Bo Riva

SONG: Franzis

ALBUM: If You’re Alright, It’s Alright EP

This discovery was a very random one that I happened to stumble across on Youtube’s Mahogany Sessions and thank goodness I did. Fil Bo Riva has been on repeat throughout this month with his EP If You’re Alright, It’s Alright made up of 5 very good tracks indeed. His sound is described as ‘floating between folk and soul’ and I would even add the word alternative in there too. His gravel-voice is what makes his sound so unique combining that with the songs themselves which are wonderfully melodic and overflowing in energy and dynamic. His voice fluctuates between a howling and a roaring to a soft and gentle tone bringing the intensity and energy that makes his sound so original. There’s a grittiness to his music too that can sometimes be lacking in similar genres and that’s not just his gruff voice which contrasts so well with his thoughtful guitar arrangements, there’s actually a lot of substance behind his atmospheric sound.

Franzis was the first track that completely hooked me. To me it’s the stand out track on the EP perhaps because of its playful vibe. The opening ‘La hu hu la hu’ harmonies sits beside a percussive noise that sounds to me like  the clicking of his tongue, hinting at the bouncy vibe of the track which comes into full bloom in the catchy chorus of ‘Love me now love you moooore’. If that’s not fun enough there’s an equally fun video to accompany the track of two people dancing as if no one is watching and you can’t help but think they must have had a lot of fun filming it!

As soon as you’ve listened to Franzis, make sure you give Like Eye Did  a listen too as it’s also an exciting and whimsical track!

February Playlist 2017

ARTIST: Fleet Foxes

SONG: Mykonos

ALBUM: Sun Giant EP

Fleet Foxes first official release back in 2008 was Sun Giant EP. It wasn’t until they released their first album a year later that I discovered this beautifully pastoral sounding band. Uncovering their self-titled album, I explored further and that was when I found Mykonos from their Sun Giant EP. And I’ve never looked back since.

Years later I still find myself reaching out for their rustic sound. They incorporate a lot of my favourite things within their music as it’s full to the brim with reverb and harmonies, creating an atmosphere that makes me feel as though I am sat in a log cabin in the woods on a mountain top. It’s no wonder they are described as rural, it’s easy to conjure images of scenic splendour when you hear their songs. Even lead singer and songwriter, Robin Pecknold’s unique tone of voice blends perfectly with the bands vintage folk sound and Pecknold’s nature-influenced lyrics. The arrangements are crafted flawlessly, with fine attention to detail as the songs swoop and soar allowing the songs to flourish. Mykonos stands out to me with it’s unconscious catchy melodies and harmonies especially with the opening ‘ooh’s’ that are impossible to eradicate once you’ve heard it. The track only gets better as it builds throughout before dropping to only a cappella harmonies until the drums re-enter again it, climbing to an epic finale that begins with ‘Brother, you don’t need to turn me away’.

After their second album ‘Helplessness Blues’ in 2011, Fleet Foxes seemed to just disappear off the radar, but now fans (like myself!) can eagerly anticipate a new release in June which they have been hinting and teasing us with. I can’t wait to hear what they have been working on!

February Playlist 2017

ARTIST: Angus and Julia Stone

SONG(s): Heart Beats Slow

       A Heartbreak

             Death Defying Act

ALBUM: Angus and Julia Stone

Now, I’m struggling to pick just one song to write about for Angus and Julia Stone as I think I nearly love them all, so I’m going to mention a handful. A brother-sister duo from Sydney, they started back in 2006, incorporating folk, acoustic and more recently indie-pop. They began with their first release, Heart Full Of Wine combined with Chocolates & Cigarettes, which includes my favourite track Private Lawns and also Mango Tree. This was later followed by the album A Book Like This, which I’ll admit I have barely listened to after completely missing the release as a 12 year old and instead was taken over by their next album Down The Way as a 14 year old. I was completely in love with this album, having it on repeat consistently, especially tracks Hold On, Yellow Brick Road and Draw Your Swords.

Their most recent album is arguably the most indie-pop of the lot. With many catchy hooks and repeated melodies, it’s hard not find yourself humming along. Not only is it the vocals that ooze memorable melodies but even the instrumentation is captivating. The repetition of their songs never seems to get boring, only craving for more to get lost in their floaty and dreamy world. What helps make their sound more distinctive, for me personally, is their two voices. Julia’s voice is almost child-like, leaning towards Joanna Newsome. Thankfully her characteristic delivery refrains from ever becoming irritating but actually more intriguing and giving each song an edge to it, while Angus has a more reserved, deeper voice. It almost sounds on certain occasions that their voices seem slightly out of key, which only adds to the songs, especially Heart Beats Slow where brother and sister swap lines. The only downside to their music for me is the lyrics which always seem very simple. None the less, their unique voices alongside their indie-pop accompaniment are going to keep me mesmerised for a very long time.

What have you been listening to this past month?

M x