Info: Marlene Enright’s solo debut showcases her passions and influences. Written and recorded over a year, the result is a melange of the heavy grooves of RnB, the warmth and nostalgia of great folk songs and the richness of thickly layered harmonies. It is the sound of modern roots music, evolved as it has over decades to something that is unmistakably 21st Century, while still carrying echoes of the past.
The title, Placemats and Second Cuts, a line from the outro of the album's closing song, is fitting, for this album offers depth and introspection. Says Enright;
"Hindsight has made me realise that it's a much more self-reflective album than I initially realised. It speaks of self-doubt, dancing the fine line between feeling comfortable in your own skin and feeling totally lost at sea, indecisiveness, the battle between strength and weakness, passion and apathy, belonging and isolation and self-acceptance."
With the dreamy opening of 'Alchemy', Marlene Enright takes us on our first steps through her debut album, Placemats & Second Cuts. It's a soulful track, with a distinct folk-blues feel, but we are very soon to find out that this is but one of many strings to Enright's varied bow. Previous single '123' shows up straight after, it's a blissful piece of cherry pop, Enright sounding not a million miles away from contemporary Cathy Davey, looping keyboard progressions creating an upbeat scene for us to slip into with ease.
Again on 'Bay Tree' we are brought somewhere entirely different, a Dusty Springfield-esque piece of vocal jazz, exceedingly mellow vibes abound on what is, at present, my favourite track on the album. With electric guitar rippling and a hazy percussion, the track moves from the bright to the dark as it progresses, and everything happening here is a pure delight. After the indie-induced 'Shiny', Enright lays her vocals and soul bare on the beautiful 'Sadness'; 'I couldn't see the sun, I was too busy falling at their feet, to see the only ones, who cared where I laid my head to sleep, it's a kind of madness, that keeps us taking on the world at speed...' touches on the sense of apathy and detachment which the artist alluded to in her album description.
Marlene Enright - When The Water Is Hot
Another key highlight comes courtesy of sixth track 'Little Things', with it's subtle hint of Americana country twang, Enright interestingly adopts an almost rn'b vocal, it exudes a confidence and ebullient attitude, a case in point of reversing that earlier detachment and becoming connected with oneself again. 'When The Water Is Hot' (above video), again takes a country hue with the brass adding a warmth and richness to the overall sound of the song, it's a definitive 'pause for thought' moment on the LP.
'Underbelly' captures the swagger of '123' and 'Little Things' once again, before we move into yet another soundscape courtesy of 'Home (Shiny Reprise)', the electronic effects and Enright's vocal initially making me cast my mind back to Massive Attack's Mezzanine, I didn't see that coming either, it's also yet another sterling track on the album and reaches a most invigorating high as it unfolds around our ears. Placemats & Second Cuts closes with the see-saw of 'We Were In Trouble', at times enchanting and gentle, at others alarming and brisk, Enright's voice carefully navigating its way through short thundering bursts of drums and guitar, it's a finale which ensures both artist and album leave their mark on you in a very accomplished way.
The Mariner, Bantry - Saturday 25th March - €10
The Spirit Store, Dundalk - Wednesday 5th April
Whelans, Dublin - Thursday 6th April - €12
Dolans, Limerick - Friday 7th April - €10
Coughlan's, Cork - Thursday 13th April -€12
St. John's Theatre, Listowel - Friday 28th April - €12/€15