Martha Tilston – Lucy And The Wolves

The sixth album for British folk songstress Martha Tilston, Lucy And The Wolves, is a poetic ode to nature with songs like Rockpools, Seabirds and Wave Machine inspiring pastoral yearning for grey English skies over the rocky British coast. Opener The Cape is dramatic, emotive and showcases her striking voice in a somewhat traditional folk style, setting in motion the album’s musical journey.

Rockpools is a more contemporary folk style but continues on the theme of nature. Regretful lyrics like “I should have loved you better” are intermixed with calls for seaweed “that smells so good” and Cornwall, an English coastal region. The beauty of the coast is clearly communicated in the simple orchestration of acoustic guitar, the only accompanying instrument.

Another coast-inspired track is Wild Swimming, again using predominantly acoustic guitar to compliment Tilston’s voice as it floats through the registers. However, a pan-flute soon joins in giving the song a Celtic feel perhaps inspired by her stepmother, Irish folk performer Maggie Boyle, who taught her traditional folk songs. Tilston’s father Steve is also a prolific folk artist and mandolin player, so it is hardly surprising that Tilston pursued music after a stint as an actor.

The enchanting My Chair is the standout track on the album for its profound lyrics and Tilston’s voice taking on a definite Joni Mitchell-esque quality as it trills between low and high from note to note.  She is able to draw listeners into the scene she is describing as she intimately examines life and change. This may be a reference to the birth of her child last year, which was the reason behind her year-long hiatus.

Searching For Lambs is a very traditional a Capella folk song using choral vibrato and a soundscape of a running stream and birds to accentuate its authenticity. Words straight from a Thomas Hardy or D.H. Lawrence novel, like ‘thine’, ‘thou’ and ‘o’er dale’ are prominent. However, the following song, Old Tom Cat, is decidedly contemporary again, bringing the listener back to the 21st century.

As a whole, the album is a journey through relationships, life and desire in the English countryside. It will appeal to anyone with an imagination and will leave you feeling like Tilston has shared the ultimate secret of existence.

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