Review – Martyn Barker – Water & Stone

Martyn Barker is an English drummer, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, best known as the drummer for Shriekback. He has also been a member of King Swamp and worked with many of the world’s best known and loved musicians. He currently has co-written and co-produced two records with songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Talitha Rise, as well as producing and drumming for acts worldwide.

Water & Stone‘ celebrates the miracle of water; its rhythm, its music, its journey, its myths, poetry & its beauty. The album contains wondrously spiritual folk-scapes created for television by Martyn in collaboration with Emily Burridge (cello), Nick Pynn (violin) and Astrid Williamson (vocals). 

I first got to know of Martyn through Jo Beth Young who recorded as Talitha Rise and he really is a consummate and extremely creative musician so, when he asked me if I’d be interested in a new collection of music he had written for television my answer was always going to be a resounding yes.

Despite the premise that the album was written specifically for TV, it can be taken as a singular recording in itself. There is a wonderful flow and spiritual feel to the music as it permeates your whole being one track after another.

To my ears this ethereal, wistful and contemplative release should be listened to in one sitting as each track tends to segue into the next and draws you in to its quite delightful web of beautiful music.

Oft plaintive and mournful and oft playful and nostalgic, it caused a welling of emotions in this weary listener and calmed my soul at a time when the world is a very strange place indeed.

Particular highlights for me are the wonderfully emotive The Selkie featuring Nick Pynn’s expressive violin playing, the sublime and divine Time and the Sea with Astrid Williamson’s dreamy vocals, the reflective splendour of the compelling Ocean of Prayers and the elegant charm of Calandra’s Dance where you first hear the rarefied brilliance of Emily Burridge’s cello.

Emily is an excellent foil for Martyn, collaborating on eight of the album’s thirteen tracks but it is the haunting grandeur of the music that stands out across the entirety of the recording.

You are unlikely to hear a release as graceful and spiritual as this at any point in 2020, it will move and delight you in equal measure.

Released 16/2/20

‘Water & Stone’ is available at Apple Music and from 7digital here:

https://uk.7digital.com/artist/martyn-barker/release/water-and-stone-10792882

Review – Talitha Rise – An Abandoned Orchid House – by Progradar

“Some people have lives; some people have music.”
― John Green, Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Music is what makes my life complete, it fills the holes and spaces in time and I honestly couldn’t be without it. Some music is so compelling that it can take over your life, pausing you in a moment in time, not caring or worrying about anything else and the elfin, ethereal vocals of Talitha Rise (better known as Jo Beth Young) definitely belong in that category.

Following on from the beautiful EP ‘Blue’, Jo is releasing her debut full length album ‘An Abandoned Orchid House’ on June 1st. It is a release full of captivating, wistful songs wound around themes of isolation and abandonment.

Ten stripped back creations full of emotions, sometimes dark and despairing and often passionate and full of desire, this is a sentimental and uplifting soundscape that leads, through sacrifice and estrangement, to hope and optimism.

Jo Beth Young has a sublime and refined voice that has a haunting aura and reminds me of an early Kate Bush or Tori Amos and it is her most potent weapon. When added to the intelligent, captivating lyrics it gives wonderful songs. ‘An Abandoned Orchid House’ was recorded in many locations from living rooms and kitchen tables in Devon to a beautiful manor house in Sussex.

“I like to think this has given them some real sense of isolation, even when the tracks are very big.” Jo says, “I wanted them to feel like a personal and intimate conversation between myself and the listener.”

That is exactly what you get. Listening to this enchanting record, you feel like you are cocooned by the music and living in your own, private performance of the songs, very intimate indeed.

There’s a who’s who of guest perfomers including Juldeh CamaraPeter Yates, Arnulf Linder and Rory McFarlane and everything is complemented to perfection by long time collaborator Martyn Barker.

The nostalgic wonder of songs like Valley and Incantation and the Clannad-like River leaves you mesmerised and lost in time and space in your own mind. The profound imagery comes to life in your head as you listen to the soulful music and beguiling vocals, these songs are written for the pure joy of music and you feel a surge of love rise up in your heart and soul as you hear every bewitching note.

There’s a stark elegance and charm to songs like Orchid House and the stunning Chapel Bell, an honest melancholy that filters through and captures you in its embrace and you feel every emotion and affectation.

Every song on the album is a mesmerising moment in time but my personal favourite is the utterly wonderful The Lake, a spellbinding song that lingers long in the memory after it comes to a fascinating close.

I’ve been waiting for this new album for a long time and have not been disappointed by what Talitha Rise has composed, it comes to a close with Twisted Tree and the haunting Lifeboat ,two more exceptional and captivating pieces that complete the amazing musical tapestry.

In my humble opinion everybody needs music to complete their life, to give you a reason to get up every morning and go out to work and Talitha Rise has delivered one of those perfect moments in time, an album of songs of such rare quality, delivered by the most wonderful voice, that stands out like a ray of light in the darkening world that increasingly surrounds us. My music loving friends it just doesn’t get any better than this!

Released 1st June 2018

Pre-orders for ‘An Abandoned Orchid House’ will open soon, order here

 

Review – Talitha Rise – Blue EP – by Progradar

“There is beauty in the unspoiled innocence of music, a beauty that cannot be quantified but one that fills the soul with empathy and love.”

I wrote that after my umpteenth listen to the first EP from Talitha Rise – ‘Blue’, I like music that has pomp and circumstance and power and glory but I also love music that has the power to move me with it’s grace and beauty and ‘Blue’ fits perfectly in the latter category.

Talitha Rise is the solo project of Jo Beth Young, Jo Beth has been likened to artists such as Tori Amos, First Aid Kit, Mazzy Star and Stevie Nicks all the while remaining a striking and unique voice that hypnotizes the ear.

Whether recorded or live her music grabs the listener from the first few notes and plunges them into the deep with a combination of diverse and haunting vocals, melodical journeys that makes you wonder where on earth you have been for the last 30 minutes.

Her EP ‘Blue’ (co-written and co-produced by Martyn Barker (Shriekback) introduced a forest of unfurled noise where a plethora of strings and lush unexpected sounds wind themselves around stories and understated guestings from artists such as Juldeh Camara (Robert Plant) and Chris Difford (Squeeze).

Six atmospheric songs of understated grace, ‘Blue’ opens with the dreamlike Magpies, a track with an otherworldly feel to it and one where the ethereal qualities of Jo Beth’s gorgeous vocals just draw you in. It’s Folk music but like nothing you’ve really heard before, the pared back rawness of the music adding a primal gloss to everything. Shadow Navigation carries the theme further with a delicate guitar and strings guiding the haunting vocal along a hidden path. These songs were conceived and inspired by the surrounding nature of East Sussex and you can almost feel the life-force running through them. A plaintive violin adds pathos and humility to the stark beauty at the heart of Jo Beth’s elfin-like voice.

There’s an impish tone to Golden Moon, a track with a more traditional folk edge to the music, Listening to Jo Beth I imagine myself in a mist-shrouded dawn as her elegantly lilting tones bewitch you. This song has a more serious overtone, darker, more intriguing as it segues into progressive-folk with its allegorical connotations, slightly devilish and wild. The most pared back song on the EP, Deadwood is a delicate and sublime piece of music, the fragility barely held back as Jo Beth delivers her halting vocal like an ancient troubadour, backed by the bare essentials of instrumentation. There’s a ghostly, intangible sensation that hangs over the whole track and you find yourself getting lost in its inestimable charm.

Wide-eyed innocence flows from Jo Beth’s voice as she sings the opening words to Morning, another simple and yet delightful piece of music that plucks at your heart strings with its naiveté and guilelessness. Perhaps more Art Pop than folk, it fits in with the rest of the songs perfectly. There’s no complications to music when it is as simple and unpretentious as this and it lifts the heavy weight of life from your soul. Too soon the EP comes to a close with Doves, perhaps the most progressively tinged track with its enigmatic aura. A passionate and ardent song, Jo Beth gives us her most powerful vocal performance and yet she never loses that childlike innocence from her voice. The vibrant music delivers a colourful soundscape that envelops all and closes out the EP in elegant style.

Captivating and bewitching from the first note, the ethereal beauty and childlike grace of Jo Beth Young’s vocals are at the core of ‘Blue’, a wondrously engaging collection of songs that serve notice of a musical talent to watch out for. She is currently finishing the debut Talitha Rise album due for release in late  2017. The Lake is the first single of the album.

Released 14th February 2017

Buy ‘Blue’ from bandcamp