‘A Piece Of This World’
Golden-voiced chanteuse has a huge voice, huge talent, and an ambitious drive to succeed.
Availability: ‘A Piece Of This World’ isavailable at http://marthabean.bandcamp.com/
The female solo market is one that is readily quantifiable…
and one in which, quantity doesn’t automatically equate to quality. For all the self-assured and acclaimed artists such as Adele, Jessie Ware and Laura Marling, it is counterbalanced, and drowned by a sea of mediocre jobsworth attempts at trying to project credibility and something that sets them apart. It is not simply good enough to turn up, sing the songs and that is that. Should you want to remain in the public consciousness for a long while, there needs to be a profitable and original synopsis laid out. There is not the inequality and discrimination within music as there is within business and society as a whole- everyone is free to play. And although it is bands that seems, by and large, to garner the majority of plaudits and close inspection, the life of the solo artist is just as curious and valuable. I am a big fan especially of the female variation of solo talent. Mainly because the subject matter can be more intriguing and variable, as well as the fact that the voice that enunciates the esprit de corps csan be more spellbinding and charged, makes the overall experience more wondrous and scintillating. Kate Bush and Eva Cassidy are two of my all-time favourite ‘voices’. Between them, they are able to evoke wistfulness, peace and tranquility, and do what the best singers manage to do: stop you in your tracks.
The road travelled by Martha Bean, is a triumphant one. It has been said (by Leicester Mercury) that she has managed to win over the most rambunctious of audiences with her “fingerpicking wizadry and pitch-perfect falsetto”. A Cassidy/Bush sized hole is already starting to be filled in. A counter-proposal to those resigned for the fact, that what they will hear is going to consist of insubstantial personal heartache and inconsequential oddity, will be in for a kick in the teeth. The songs of Miss Bean are introspective, as well as illuminating, her tones comparable to Ella Fitzgerald and Joan as Policewoman. She is gorgeous, sweet-natured and striking; synonyms most commonly reserved for the more hollow variety of female singer. Add to the mix the fact that she has already released quite a bit of music, including her current E.P., ‘State Of The Art’.
The latest offering from the electric songstress is ‘A Piece Of This World’. The interview to find out whether it will be good enough to captivate wholly, is a mere formality, arriving as it does with processional and plucked guitar strings. They are low and rain-addled, but portray a romanticism, and provide an instant disambiguation to any myths one may have as to the term ‘singer-songwriter’. In a way it is a tonal 180 degrees of Nick Drake’s track ‘Horn’, from ‘Pink Moon’. It shares genetic material and is as misty-eyed in its mystique. Following a brief pause, the voice peaks from the clouds. I can see where the Joan as Policewoman comparisons emanate from. Bean has a similar husky stillness and sex appeal to her voice. There is also a touch of Bjork (at her most relaxed); with a shading of Feist. The best way to get the full flavour from the song is to close your eyes and picture the song and the images it weaves. Your mind becomes an intoxicated povitika of mixed emotions. I can understand why Radio Cardiff heralded her voice as “hauntingly beautiful”. Any erroneous thoughts are evaporated as Martha speaks of heartache and doubt, imploring the audience “to open up/Once in a while/When you’re lonely/And feeling blue”. It is a thematic premise that is pertinent throughout, and emotional relevant to most people. Martha has said in interviews that the E.P. and songs are quite commercial-sounding (but in a good way), and her greatest time of inspiration, is when she has more of a frown on her face. The mood of the song- far from being morose- is relaxed and seductive. There is a pleasing assuredness to the track, and when the falsetto reaches it augmented high, the comparisons to Eva Cassidy and Ella Fitzgerald are warranted. When she sings “it’s real love”, her voice holds and floats, all at once, entrancing and pure. Martha, too, has an impressive affinity with acoustic guitar as well. She is nimbly able to evoke maximum emotional resonance from a few notes; deftly weaving a tapestry of low-angled curiosity, which compliments the vocals, and transcends the overall mood. In the same way the likes of Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell were able to illiterate their words and substantiate their mandate; Bean is equivocal in her talents. The inclusion of cello and viola around about the 2:00 mark, aggrandises the song, and adds an extra layer of beauty and evocation. Martha has found love, and a foothold of hope, but hopes that it will “see me through”. As with all the most memorable and truest love songs, there is always a sense of heartache- whether it is secret or not. The song is terrifically assured and pioneering. It has echoes of past masters, but is imbued with such a modern and tangible freshness, that it is sure to speak directly to everyone.
I share a similar reticence to Jon Dodd of The Monograph. In relation to the flotilla of female solo talent, there is a lot of conjecture thrown around, proclaiming that ‘Miss-so-and-so’ is ‘the next Adele/JessieWare/Rhianna’ (delete as appropriate). 90% of these statements are crass hyperbole and send repulsed shivers down my spine. Few artists, full stop, have as much potential as hyperactive and under-educated media reviewers say they have. Dodd stated (in relation to Bean’s E.P.): “is, and will continue to be, in my eyes, a local classic”; adding later that (the E.P.) was “enigmatic and sobering”. I agree with those sentiments. ‘A Piece Of This World’ stands firmly above its multitude of kissing cousins. The voice that whispers from Bean’s lips is one of the reasons. It has the sweetness, stillness and plain wonderment that Cassidy does. At times I was thinking about her (Cassidy’s) rendition of ‘Fields of Gold’. That song is viewed as one of the greatest cover versions of all time, and – coupled with one of the greatest voices of all time- is certainly in my top 5. To compare Bean to Cassidy is not false economy. She has the potential to create a legion of adoring fans, and whilst many classic female songwriters gained a tributary of adulation posthumously, it will take only months for Martha to achieve a wide fandom. The fact that she writes her own material, and is a skilled lyricist, as well as musician, works well in her favour too, and she has a keen ear for the contemporary need, as well as an intelligent appreciation of artists past.
Bean has a wise and ardent appreciation for the supply and demand’s topography and intimate diary entries. She knows that simply ‘being’ will not be enough, regardless of how gorgeous, ambitious or genuine a human she is. She has complied a tight and ecclesiastical number that ruminates and sweeps. The E.P. will be a timely reminder, to the multitude of forthcoming talent, on how it should be done. The E.P. is gaining a few fans in the media, and even more wider afield. Having listened to a couple of Martha’s song, I can attest that ‘A Piece Of This World’ is no epithetical fluke. In time more songs will be created, and albums and tours will be a very real prospect. For now, enjoy Bean whilst she is in the infancy of her career. She deserves a lot more attention and plaudits, and it is free to listen to her tracks, and costs nothing to get in touch and let her know how awesome her voice, music and words are. So do it. In a climate where ‘ten a penny’ is a term that can be appropriately twinned with ‘singer-songwriter’ say hello, and congratulations to a talent, who will soon be defined, proudly, by the following saying:
… ‘The next Martha Bean’.