Saturday, 10 March 2018

Album of the Month: Martha Ffion - Sunday Best

Martha Ffion - Sunday Best
Photo reproduced with kind permission by: Laura Meek Photography

Info: Irish-born, and now Glasgow based singer-songwriter Martha Ffion has announced her eagerly anticipated debut LP entitled 'Sunday Best’ which was released 9th March 2018 on Turnstile Music. 'Sunday Best' is by far her most adventurous and accomplished work to-date, the lush instrumentation bringing her detailed lyrical vision to life. Through a series of gleaming guitar-pop songs that drift between soft-centred balladry and something altogether more cutting and forceful.

Initially breaking through with a 'postcard single' on Scotland’s flourishing Lost Map label, Ffion’s reputation soared with last year’s 'Trip' EP, a swooning five-track collection that was released by Turnstile Music (Cate Le Bon, Gruff Rhys, Charlotte Church, Emmy the Great etc.).

Within seconds of the beginning of Martha Ffion's debut album Sunday Best she beckons you inside a door to the late 1960's, and shuts it firmly behind you, today is no more. 'Missing You' is a striking opening, it's colourful tones throwing up a multitude of visceral feelings, abandonment of the present for a golden time that possibly only ever existed in our heads. Ffion's soft vocal standing gently but with a graceful eloquence over a hazy electric guitar strum.

'Real Love' then sweeps into retro-indie territory, although not sounding like it, the track recalls the mid-90's guitar-pop frolics of acts such as Sweden's The Wannadies or day-glo chimes of US band Fountains of Wayne. This again conjures feelings of mass nostalgia, and that sunshine balm is everywhere once again. 'Take Your Name' finds us back to where we started, jangle-pop melded with easy-listening similar to Dusty Springfield or the big-band sound of Connie Francis, it's simultaneously classic and modern.

Martha Ffion - Take Your Name

'Punch Drunk' steps straight into Ffion's contemporary influences, a swash-buckling guitar-driven indie-rock number that criss-crosses between sombre contemplation and soaring emotional deliveries. That burst is enhanced with the bubbling guitar-pop of 'Record Sleeves', a rambling and almost out of control shot of country-rock, the tempo throws the listener straight into the midst of Ffion and bands chaotic merry-go-round of bliss. 

Even more relentless energy pours forth on the rockier 'No Applause', juicy bass-lines pump us up on what I think may be my favourite track on Sunday Best, it is highly gratifying in terms of sound and the feeling it imparts, and when Ffion casually throws out the line 'Hey what ya do that for?' you're right on board. A moment of full tenderness arrives with the gentle sway of 'We Make Do', there's so much to hold dear on this stripped back track of ponderous piano and light percussion, in its simplicity we benefit from sheer happiness and a hopeful message.

And now I wonder, is 'Beach' actually my favourite song on the LP? This is a welcome dilemma, the music again provides that locomotive rhythm and zest, you have been well wrapped up in the album's fell-good blanket and warmth at this stage, but as if to drive the point home nothing is spared in the tank towards the end, and, that bass, again. The curtain comes down on Sunday Best with latest single 'Baltimore', tying us back to that initial late 60's folk-rock vibe, a little bit psych-pop at times, and with a charming innocence, Ffion's vocal is firmly in the old-world of traditional story-telling here.

Sunday Best is so easily accessible on a number of levels, firstly it will appeal to those with a disposition of a wide array of genres that span from its indie-rock core, is appropriate listening for almost any mood, and favours feeling over easy paths, giving it an unfeigned demeanour that will resonate with listeners. Ffion's biggest triumph on her debut album however is that she stays so loyal to her influences and carefully remoulds them into a collection of tracks that quite simply, are a fountain of joy and endless good feelings.

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