LISA MARINI – Born In Tribes (own label)

Born In TribesLisa Marini’s Born In Tribes is filled with music that has been “summoned by a foolish magpie”. And what a wonderful sound that is to hear!

My native state of Wisconsin derives its name from the Chippewa-Ojibwa-Anishinake word Ouiscoundin, which means “a gathering of waters”. Now, Lisa Marini’s album, Born In Tribes, may have been conceived a world away in London, England, but archetypes being archetypes, it sings the very same song: This record is “a gathering of waters”.

This music cuts vinyl tributaries of folk, jazz, and blues that merge to touch ritual wood, which kindles magical songs.

So, roll over Thea Gilmore and tell Laura Marling (and Tanita Tikaram) the news: There’s a pretty great new folk singer in town!

And then there’s the voice: dramatic, sincere, human to a hum, and able to hang a note long enough to hover over a spring garden hoping for some sort of bloom. The first song, ‘Piece By Peace’, is acoustic, spooky, and (almost) ritualistic in its theme of destruction and rebirth. A mandolin and electric guitar carve runic sounds while the eerie melody dances to the same deep forest thought as a nice tune from the legendary acid-folk band Comus (sans the screams!). This is walking on a melodic razor’s edge stuff.

Now, please don’t shoot me because I’m just the (piano playing) messenger, but the title tune, ‘Born In Tribes’ slightly recalls the folky feel of Jethro Tull (‘Sossity; You’re A Woman’ and the second side acoustic bits of Minstrel In The Gallery come to mind) because, sure, both “gather the waters” of folk, jazz, blues, and a slight Eastern vibe; but Lisa’s vocals, like Ian A’s project such earnest melodies that are flecked with a lingering dash of some self-deprecating and very wise wit. It’s a nice tightrope walk.

And the ritual continues. ‘Crooked Circle’ has a quiet pulse with a lovely acoustic guitar frame. Ghosts of acid folk mummers haunt the tune with repetition that slowly builds a wicker man bonfire. ‘I’ve Been A Thief’ really does echo (the before-mentioned) Thea Gilmore and gives one more “rule for” any would be “jokers”. That’s big praise. ‘Bound By The Street’ is a bit jazzy (with a nice bass guitar) in a very acoustic manner. Again, the melodic repetition urges a manta reflection. ‘More?’ gets really solo acoustic with more of those ancient mummer ghosts.

By the way, there’s a popular television show called The Mystery Of Oak Island. There are countless episodes in which series regulars dig for buried treasure. You know, it might be really nice (after all these years) to locate that Holy Grail! But (surprise! surprise!) they don’t really ever find important stuff. So, some sage advice: Spin this record countless times and discover countless subtle audio artifacts—a surging (and sometimes placid) violin, a nice strum of a guitar, a soft piano, patient percussion, a very human lyric, and bewitched double tracked backing vocals. This album rewards time.

And, yes, the folk ritual continues. ‘Kite’ is just a gentle guitared voiced prayer that conjures solitude, a solitude that drips like an autumnal river. Time can sometimes stand still. ‘Second Hand News’ ups the melodic bluesy ante. And there’s a big electric guitar in the tune. ‘Rag And Bone’ floats in dense Mr. Fox and Bob Pegg air. ‘Deeds Not Words’ hangs over that (before-mentioned) garden and still begs for some sort of divine bloom.

The final tune, ‘Song For The Moon’, takes its good natured celestial bodied time, as contemplative moons tend to do; then there’s that human hum, with perfect percussion, more urgent vocals, and then a well-earned silence.

So, as Lisa sings, “Bless the sun and bless the moon and bless the simple things we do”. That’s a nice thing to say. Yeah, and always listen to that “foolish magpie”, who thankfully, continues to swim in the musical “gathered waters” currents of folk music that, even after all these years, still manages to touch that ritualist wood, and then, somehow, sing a magical and very blessed song.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website:

‘Secondhand New’ – official video:

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