|Martha Tilston — Machines of Love and Grace (2012)|
Martha Tilston — Machines of Love and Grace
Location: Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Album release: October 22, 2012
Record Label: Squiggly
01 Stags Bellow 3:49
02 Silent Women 3:46
03 Survival Guide 5:58
04 Blue Eyes 3:51
05 Wall Street 2:36
06 More 4:17
07 Staircase 4:47
08 Suburbia 6:28
09 Shiny Gold Car 5:03
10 Butterflies 6:22
11 Let Them Glow 19:34
Tilston eloquently explores the relationship between technology and the human condition.
Jeanette Leech 2012-10-15
≈ As the title hints, Sussex singer Martha Tilston’s latest album is concerned with the complicated relationship between technology and the human condition. This theme is an easy one for folk musicians to bring up, but generally a hard one for them to tackle effectively.
≈ Too often, folk songs with this theme settle for one of three acoustic stereotypes: happy Luddite ode, nostalgic ramble or sledgehammer protest. It is therefore to Tilston’s great credit that her album, while saturated with sadness and despair, adopts none of these positions. Instead, she explores these issues with eloquence and balance.
For Tilston, the personal is political. For example, in Silent Women, she links disquiet at modern warfare with the oppression of women’s intellectual voices, and then reflects on her own upbringing. While some might find this approach self-centred, it does give her concept a pure emotional heart, and means that her political points are never empty sloganeering.
≈ There is someone else who is very good at doing this kind of thing: Joni Mitchell. And, boy, does Martha Tilston like Joni Mitchell. It’s hinted at from the beginning, but it is impossible to ignore on Blue Eyes and Staircase. On these two tracks in particular, Tilston imitates Mitchell’s distinctive phrasing to such an outrageous degree that homage becomes cheap impression.
≈ Perhaps in an effort to make these songs seem less like outright theft, the penultimate track on the album, Butterflies, confesses the influence, as Tilston namechecks song titles and lyrics from Joni’s most iconic albums. Therefore, some may reasonably ask: why listen to Machines of Love and Grace when one can listen to Blue or Clouds?
≈ The answer to that is in tracks such as the unusual Survival Guide, a sparse, rhythmic piece that somehow finds a middle ground between Mary Hampton and Adam Ant. When Tilston forges with her own musical iron – as she also does on the delicate More, and on the murky tangle that is Let Them Glow – the results are powerful.
≈ Tilston shouldn’t settle for being an ersatz Joni, because the more she does so, the more she cheats the world out of her own unique voice.
REVIEW by Helen Earnshaw (Rating: 4/5)
≈ "The programme blew me away. It tackled a lot of the questions my peers are asking: how the finances are run, how we’ve let machines take over and how those machines run us".
≈ Like Mitchell’s Woodstock, which painted an image of exploding bombs transforming into butterflies, Tilston’s Machines ponders the conflict between human life and the machinery of modern age.
≈ Tilston underpins her pastoral narratives with meaningful contexts, such as lead single ‘Stags Bellow’, a stirring paean to freedom and the wild deer that roam the Royal Parks.
≈ Tilston’s songwriting eschews the hoary ‘moors and maids’ folk imagery of old for gentle, probing meditations on modern concerns such as consumerism ('More'), urbanization ('Suburbia'), unheard voices ('Silent Women') and with 'Wall Street', the disastrous ebb and flow of stock market tides, a paced, determined number Tilston wrote inspired by the then-emerging Occupy movement.
≈ Says Tilston, "A few years ago, folk went very mainstream. It was good in a lot of ways, because it meant loads of people were taking up instruments and learning the old songs. But the world was in crisis and it felt weird that folk, which has always been the people’s music, was totally avoiding that and not acknowledging it".
≈ And with this new record she has delivered a collection of folk tracks that really will cement her as a force in this genre of music.
≈ Stags Below is the opening track on the record and it has a real Celtic influence to it that is almost haunting in a way.
≈ The song is a paean to freedom and the wild deer that roam the Royal Parks and is a fantastic acoustic track where Tilston's voice just washes over you.
≈ The stripped back and acoustic feel is also present on the fantastic Silent Women as she sings about voices that are unheard.
≈ But she also tackles contemporary subjects through her music and that is evident in Wall Street as this is a song about the uncertainty of the stock market.
≈ The track is inspired by the Occupy movement in the U.S. and it is not an in your face political track instead she just asks the questions that are on the minds of many people.
≈ And with More she looks at consumerism and Suburbia she tackles the idea of urbanisation.
≈ With More in particular there is something very real in the words that she has written.
≈ Tilston shows that the deeper end of her vocal is just as compelling as the top end of her voice.
≈ There is a real ebb and flow to this track as Tilston is supported once again by a guitar as well as some fantastic strings that just add that little extra bit of something.
Martha Tilston has not simply written and recorded ad album she has raised questions and pointed fingers through her music.
≈ Machines Of Love And Grace is a fantastic record that shows that Tilston is not afraid to tackle issues that are important to her.
≈ There is perhaps a lack of pace on this record but other than that it is a record that shows a vocalist on top form.
Also: by Rose Collins: http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2012/10/martha-tilston-machines-of-love-and-grace/
• 2000 Mouse: Helicopter Trees (with Nick Marshall)
• 2001 Mouse: Mouse Tales (with Nick Marshall)
• 2003 Rolling
• 2005 Bimbling
• 2006 Ropeswing (credited to Martha Tilston and The Woods)
• 2007 Of Milkmaids and Architects
• 2008 Till I Reach the Sea (compilation EP)
• 2010 Lucy and the Wolves
• 2012 Machines of Love and Grace
|Martha Tilston — Machines of Love and Grace (2012)|