Marina Florance is one of the new wave of female singer-songwriters emerging from nurturing by the Folkstock organisation alongside Maz O’Connor, Kelly Oliver and Daria Kulesh. This, That & The Other is her second studio album. She came late to performing but brings a wealth of experience to her work.
Marina is an accomplished instrumentalist, using only Roland Garson’s melodeon on two tracks and alto sax from Greg Camburn and guitar from Ben Smith on a third. She is modest about the scope of her talents on the package but the record features hand percussion under multi-tracked guitars and a mandolin weaves its way through some of the tracks while at least one has piano and strings (or synthesiser) and there is some tasty electro-acoustic leads here and there. Actually, sometimes it’s hard to be certain about what is actually being employed.
Songwriting credits are sometimes shared with Julie Fox-Allen, Mick Kennedy and Richard Pierce whose spoken words add something rather special to ‘A Better Song’ but Marina is at the centre of them all. ‘Take A Little Time’ is a song which quickly stands out – powerful lyrics allied to a tune that gets under your skin but it’s not alone in that. ‘Carried Away’ has a definite feel of Americana with mandolin to the fore and something rather more upfront in the way of percussion.
I’d heard only a couple of Marina’s songs before this album but it’s rapidly grown on me. I’m impressed by the way that she keeps everything tight and restrained. even when, as with ‘A Room Of Your Own’, she pours everything into the song.
This, That & The Other is an impressive album that will be launched officially at The Straw Bear Festival next month.
Downtown is a compilation released to coincide with two concerts curated by Folkstock Records at the London Folk & Blues Festival. It’s a limited edition with several tracks recorded specifically for the project so you may want to make your purchase with due alacrity.
The set opens with ‘Miles To Tralee’, about to be a single for Kelly Oliver and slated for her second album. It was produced by Stu Hanna and just exudes style and confidence. Kelly has come a long way in a very short time and deservedly so. Next come Fred’s House and their digital single ‘Shut Up And Dance’. On first hearing I thought that they’d discovered it on some obscure album of Americana but, no, it’s all their own work and a thumping good track. Minnie Birch’s ‘Dustbowl’ is taken from her debut album and ‘Little Black Cloud’ is a taster for Marina Florence’s forthcoming album and is already receiving radio plays. Mariana has a smoky, sultry voice that demands your attention, possibly on pain of a cane across the knuckles.
There is something of middle-period Joan Baez about Zoe Wren’s singing and ‘Nothing To See’ is a particularly powerful performance and one of the collection’s unique tracks as is Kaity Rae’s ‘When You Go’. ‘The Moon And The Pilot’ can only be by Daria Kulesh. Kate Rouse’s hammered dulcimer is an obvious clue and the allegorical lyrics and a hint of the 1940s about the vocal delivery remove any doubt – the mention of Stalin seals it. This is another original recording for this compilation.
‘Nashville’ is the second selection from Minnie Birch’s debut album, Floundering, and then comes Ben Smith with ‘Let Me Down Easy’. Ben is a superb guitarist and the song has the feel of the sixties troubadours with a laid-back band and little electric fills that build up as the track progresses. Finally, we return to Kelly Oliver and ‘Rio’, a song co-written with Nigel Stonier and her most recent single. It’s a happy, uplifting song with which to end an excellent set. “Thanks for having me” indeed.