Invisible Fishing is available at:
1st October, 2016
Folk; Psychedelia; Art-Pop; Progressive-Folk
WHILST the tastemakers and musical tipsters are collating….
their list of this year’s best albums; there is something niggling at the back of the mind. I have scoured quite a few and a consensus is starting to formulate. At/near the top of most lists is Beyoncé’s Lemonade: other albums from the likes of Chance the Rapper and Solange are getting nods. There are some British acts in these lists but the majority – those lauded and celebrated – are U.S.-based and addressing modern times and concerns. If one looks at the polls you will see a wave of strong, defiant albums in the elite places. That is mirrored in features such as BBC’s tips for 2017. In their eyes, Urban artists are going to be making the loudest noises: those assessing the realities of the nation and what is happening; more relevant and raw than your average chart act. It is nice seeing a shift against predictable bands and rather wet solo artists. I feel political events and social confusion/anger has led to this dynamic shift. Yes, it is encouraging discovering a new breed of songwriter gain respect but that seems to come at the cost of another sector of music. I promised I would not mention her name until 2017 – been exhausting her music the last few months – but a certain B*lli* Ma*ten has had an incredible year: her debut album has been released and shown what a fantastic young proposition she is. Whether you have heard of Billie Marten or not, it brings to mind a concern: how many like-minded artists have been overlooked in this year’s ‘best of’ lists. I was somewhat aghast her album, Writing of Blues and Yellows, was not mentioned in any of the polls magazines/sites have released. Fair, it might not crack the top ten of most sites but the top fifty, surely?! Hmmm. Aside from being my standout of 2016, it has made a huge impact among the public and being taken to heart by stations like ‘6 Music – in their rundown of the year’s best albums I expect to hear it mentioned. Folk is a genre that often gets overlooked – something I have mentioned before but cannot explain why. Before I come to my featured act, and raise a couple of new points, I was to expand on that.
If music fans and the media are favouring a more urgent, arresting and socially conscious brand of music; it is only right something should be done to ensure the preservation of refined, calmer sounds. It is only right the best of the best should be recognised but insufficient acclaim is being provided to the ‘best of the rest’. Having mentioned her-that-shan’t-be-named it brings to mind Folk and its variations. A much more intriguing and enigmatic genre than many give it credit for: listen carefully and you will find musicians pushing boundaries and adding new light to the form. Talitha Rise, who I shall come to very shortly, are archetypes of a new, more progressive brand of Folk. Whether you would label them as purely Folk – or Art-Pop for instance – that is up to personal interpretation. My point is that their basis – earthy and pastoral tones – are augmented by psychedelic elements and all manner of fresh tones and fascinating sounds. I guess it is just a phase music is going through – where different artists are being embraced – but quite a few albums this year, that spills over with quality and promise, have not been given proper recognition. Even if the compositions are not as hip-shaking and body-moving as that: that is not to say there is not immense power and pull to the music. I will continue on this point, looking at artists in East Sussex and new duos, but before I do, it is worth being introduced to Talitha Rise:
“Talitha Rise write songs of undeniable emotional depth and beauty. At times, more akin to a musical landscape than a song, their tracks journey hypnotically through evocative worlds of heart-breaking hope and the rawness of life’s deeper realities with ethereal mystique.
Whether recorded or live, the combined alchemy of Jo Beth Young and Martyn Barker grab the listener from the first few notes and plunges them deep into a combination of diverse and haunting vocals, melodical journeys and beautiful instrumentations that makes you wonder where on earth you have been for the last 30 minutes.
It is hard to pin down what genre or influence is behind them: hints of Psychedelia, Art Pop, Progressive Folk, and World Music all shine through but above all they have done something rare in today’s musical world….they have created a new one”.
‘Talitha’ is an uncommon feminine name meaning ‘little girl’ in Aramaic; given in reference to the Biblical story in the Gospel of Mark. It is an intriguing origin to a duo who create music instilled with power, tender emotions and gorgeous harmonies. I tend to find, when out of the capital, you get music a lot less busy and loud – that might change with tomorrow’s review subjects – and something rather different. It is rare I get to traverse out of London and investigate musicians from East Sussex. It is a county that contains one of Britain’s most prosperous and eclectic musical cities (Brighton) and not often mentioning in the hallowed pages of music’s coolest press bodies. It is a shame the cities (and obvious areas) get a lot of attention – at the expense of other parts – but it is encouraging seeing acts like Talitha Rise emerge. A more experienced, mature and rounded alternative to the worn and humdrum Pop sounds of the mainstream – you get depth, tranquillity and activity; serenity and intense emotion within the same songs. I mentioned a certain B.M. earlier because her music reminds me a lot of Talitha Rose. Based in Yorkshire – another area providing exceptional musicians – her album was acclaimed and highly praised. Music lovers and commentators want to discover musicians who offer a beautiful and graceful approach to some of the more aggressive and forceful options in the market. Perhaps there is no easy and quick way to ensure music’s finest get appropriate representation and attention – other than having to spend a long time working their way through the ranks. The Lewes-based duo has been performing locally but making a name for themselves in Brighton. That is an area that is still relatively untapped and a burgeoning market for new music. You only need to stick your head around some of the venues there to get a flavour and scene of Brighton’s brew. It is a heady and variegated one: so many different genres and a different approach to music and community. A more relaxed and less suffocated feel than London; perhaps finer new bands than Manchester – worth a lot more time and attention. I am wandering off topic but it is important to recognise not only the full spectrum of musicians around but look beyond media-tipped areas and obvious hotspots. If today’s music scene is to be as evolved and interesting as possible, we must be as broad-minded and invested as possible. This year, and as part of my reviews, I have come into contact with a whole gamut of weird, wonderful and wise artists: many I feel will be stars in the coming years and taking big strides. Talitha Rise is gathering local praise but are more ambitious and hungry than that. It cannot be too long before they get more time and opportunity to play around London and the U.K.; perhaps get their music out to international ears. As it is, East Sussex is quite a convenient and upcoming area for music. The proximity to London is good but there is less of the stress and over-populated rush of the metropolis.
Almost time to get to Talitha Rise’s music, but before I do, a quick glimpse into duos. I know I have rhapsodised prolifically on this subject but will keep this short. Regardless of genre – and how you label the Lewes two – there is no denying the simple chemistry and connection shared. Jo Beth Young and Martyn Barker have that (almost) brother-sister bond and a deep understanding of what each other is about. A duo, in a way, is like a relationship: one that is harmonious, solid and uncomplicated. A band can seem like an unwieldy and undisciplined unit whereas the solo artist can appear solemn and over-worked. In terms of practicality, load-sharing and longevity: the duo has everything and seems like just the right size. Maybe that is too simplistic but I am hearing some fantastic duos spring up and each has something new about them. Not only (is the duo) an exciting proposition but their music, I find, is a lot more intriguing than most of the band-made stuff around. Talitha Rise are just starting out and their debut cut, Invisible Fishing, is the sound of where they are. I always look at a sapling cut and get an impression of what the artist is about. With regards Talitha Rise, it is hard to define them and explain. If you had a band – that had similar ideals – they would perhaps aim for something more commercial and festival-ready; a solo artist perhaps more stripped, restrained and bare. As it is, Talitha Rise blends little bits of Folk and some left-field elements; bits of Psychedelia and gloss it all with sumptuous vocals. I am not sure what they would call this new-found genre (‘New World-Folk’, perhaps?) – however you deem it there are few artists providing anything as detailed and unexpected.
As this is the first step for the intrepid and ambitious act: it is quite hard comparing their single with anything else. The fact they are thinking about an album means there is a lot of faith in their future songs. That is all encouraging as few acts spring that far ahead this early on – favouring E.P.s and covers until a little way down the line. I know, from following the guys, there is a lot of excitement in the camp and hopes for the future. Rather than comparing them with another act or their older material: the best thing to do is assess the debut single (which I shall do shortly) and look ahead to the album. I am not sure what it will be called – whether they favour an eponymous title – but it is likely to contain similar songs to that of Invisible Fishing. I know 2017 holds many opportunities for the duo so make sure you follow them and keep abreast of all the happenings. Their debut single is a strong and emphatic one. Usually, I hear acts that release a debut single and it has nerves and is not their best work. Talitha Rise has gone in so strong and sure; they come across natural – like they have been together for decades – which makes it a solid and stunning song.
You get a sense of metaphor with the first line of Invisible Fishing. Before they arrive, one is treated to gentle strings a rather seductive opening. The acoustic guitar beckons and sets the scene; the song arrives gently and without too much force – the listener is given the chance to soothe themselves in and get comfortable. When the heroine arrives at the microphone, one gets images of lighthouses and searchlights being extinguished. It is open for interpretation whether words are directly attributed to the heroine or whether another subject is being described. There is that sense of lacklustre and hopelessness; maybe looking for love and companionship but having to come away with nothing. The idea lights have been turned off and there is darkness adds to that aura of invisibility and mystery – having to fumble in the waters looking for a catch. It is a clever way to bring the song’s emotions and themes to life: right away you are picturing what the song is about and what is occurring. The vocals from Young have a blend of firm and seductive. She rises into the stratosphere and provides angelic elements but has a grounded and gravelled side too. That is quite a range from a singer one that is exploited throughout the song. If some words get buried in beauty and passion – not always a bad quality – you are able to get a sense of what is unfolding. The narrative definitely becomes third-person and that sense of someone else hanging their line into the waters. That line/rod, in fact, is one that represents fear and trepidation. At once, I was thinking of love and lost chances: that inability to secure romance and searching (aimlessly) for someone. I mentioned metaphors and it seems like Invisible Fishing is that practice of casting the line and getting nothing nibbling. Maybe that is purely about love or just taking chances. The song, in the early stages, opens up so many possibilities and interpretations.
Throughout the song, and backed by the hero’s impeccable and finger-picked support, the heroine sings from the heart and ensures every word rings out. I was looking into the lyrics and picturing a heroine alone – maybe standing on the rocks and looking out to the ocean. Maybe it is not love being sought but some kind of salvation and hope. There is a voice ringing out across the distance but no reply. One gets a sense of dread and suffocation: where questions are going unanswered and there is a degree of loss. I may be over-analysing but I get the impression of someone who has lost love – once pure and solid – and is searching for a new way of life. Maybe this fear, employed as a rod in the water, is holding her back and causing this stress. That openness and free-for-interpretation flair of the song gets the mind racing and puts your thoughts in all sorts of directions. At the heart, you are captivated by the chemistry and bond of Talitha Rise’s two – they have that seamlessness and understanding. I dove into the song and tried to cast my mind into the images. You get gripped by the beauty of the vocals and how the guitar carries you away. The duo has their own talent and roles but very distinct. The musicianship and composition are stunningly evocative and rich: perfectly atmospheric and rife with emotion and nuance. The vocals swoop from low-down and calm to multi-layered and choir-like. You get shades of light and dark and it really adds to the song. As the track continues, the tense switches and applies to people as a whole. Gone is the personal focus; replaced with a look at the world at large. The angels and Muses have abandoned the people and not answering their calls. Maybe Invisible Fishing, by this juncture, looks more at society and what we are facing. Although the song was written a number of months ago, it seems to reflect general fears and anxieties we all have – maybe not. I just get the feeling of the unknown and what we are facing. Maybe the song is two sides to a love: the heroine and her doubts and the hero on the other side. One gets that sense as the song nears its end.
Holding tight and battling the waves; looking at the starlight and survival seems to underpin a tale of fortitude-against-the-currents. You never feel like there is negativity or a sense of defeat: always that spirit and desire to survive and battle on. Talitha Rise, in addition to other genres, employs Gaelic strings and there is an Irish flavor to the song. Pack that into traditional Folk and something more experimental and the song has so many ideas and sounds fused together. By the final seconds, you start to get a general sense of what the song is about but still ask questions. One of the key strengths of Invisible Fishing is its passion and pure beauty. Whether you take a clear message from the track you cannot overlook its sheer glimmer, transcendence and flight. Rich, sumptuous vocals and evocative backing – guitar lines sit with determined percussive patters – are a perfect pair and elevate the song to rarified heights. If it assesses a personal love and two sides overcoming the forces against them; a general sense of uncertainty and fear or something else – everyone will have their own ideas and take something different away. As a debut single, it is a strong one from the duo and sets out their stall. I hope subsequent cuts follow suit and contain the same ingredients and stories. I know Talitha Rise will sing about love and their own personal experiences but, as they have shown here, they have a real grasp of language and imagery. Never too obvious, unsophisticated or cliché: their lyrics provoke deeper understanding and impress with its choice language and wordplay. It is the performances of the duo that resonates longest. They sound like (and may have been) have played together for years; there are no gaps or any weak moments. Completely solid and entrancing throughout – a duo that is sure to do great business in 2017.
The Great Escape and a debut album are already on the docket for next year. It will be a busy and eye-opening one for the East Sussex residents who are taking their first swim in the clement (if busy) waters of music. As it is winter – and Christmas is nearly here – there the likes of Talitha Rise is much needed. The verisimilitudinous of their songs get into the heart and will resound with the listener. There is little in the way of avoidance and mystique with the two: they write direct, immersive songs nobody will be able to ignore. Invisible Fishing, on its title alone, provokes all sorts of metaphysical and quasi-philosophical interpretations. Whether you were expecting a lone figure in the dark – by himself in the tundra looking for life – or a metaphor for love and acceptance, you can take something away from the song. Its words and meanings are open to an extent but, broadly, look at relationships and balance. I hope my assessment has at least dented the surface and tried to gain an insight into the song. That is the beauty of a song like Invisible Fishing. Upon the first survey, you have ideas and possibilities but something new is revealed each time. The music and vocals are instant but the lyrics have that sense of nuance and complexity. Before I bring this thing to an end, and briefly returning to the opening concerns, it is worth predicting the arc and next few months for Talitha Rise. I mentioned how the duo will be playing The Great Escape next year: quite an accolade for a new act. The three-day festival is held in Brighton and in addition to being local, it will bring in new audiences and those based further afield. Media, reviewers and radio will be covering it so it’s an opportune moment for the duo to strike and impress. That is likely to be a rather easy task. Not only do they have the acclaim and positive reviews of Invisible Fishing but the flesh and bones of their album. Whether the L.P. will be out before that festival experience – it would be savvy releasing it a month or two before – it is going to be received with plenty of affection.
After that, and throughout 2017, there will be options and chance afoot. I am not sure (in 2017) just how trans-continental their music will become – or whether it remains indigenous – but I am sure they will get their songs heard outside the U.K. You just know, when hearing their music, there is more of the same coming; another batch of songs that have the same effect and intense passion. It will be interesting seeing what the duo decide and how they develop in 2017. I am sure, when their debut album is out, there will be a lot of people in their camp and following them. It is hard to get your name heard and survive in the modern scene. There is so much music out there – and so much competition – it can be intimidating for musicians coming through. The secret to success and longevity is originality and effectiveness. I looked at Folk variations and artists that have warranted more acclaim. In addition to Talitha Rise being among the most transcendent, captivating and hard-working acts around: they are on their debut stage and looking to claim a foothold very easy. Festival dates and a new album will bolster that but it is encouraging discovering a sensational act that emanates from outside the capital – we do not often get to celebrate artists away from London. East Sussex is upcoming and diverse with regards music and never fails to amaze me. Aside from the great bands there (The Wytches are from here) there are wonderful solo acts and duos. I have been, in the last few weeks, bemoaning how many artists do not expend energy into their social media and making themselves known. It is not sufficient having threadbare social media pages and not putting photos online – they do not cost a lot and should always be available. Talitha Rise is an act that gives me faith: they understand the importance and are highly visible and detailed. That gives the new listener insight and understanding of what they do; where they want to head and what inspires their music. The future will be bright and long for the Lewes duo and I am thrilled by Invisible Fishing. Become accustomed with a talented and busy duo that is on the cusp of something great. 2017 might be just around the corner but will be…
A great one for Talitha Rise
Follow Talitha Rise