Album Review: Billie Marten – Drop Cherries

Picture yourself steadily drifting along the English canal network, lounging on a small boat in midsummer’s dry heat. Above the water, dainty flies are hovering, and the world passes you by at a rather nonchalant pace. Letting us step into her world once more, singer-songwriter Billie Marten builds another vivid world with her latest 13-track album ‘Drop Cherries’. Recorded entirely on tape in the Somerset and Welsh countryside together with producer and long-time collaborator Dom Monks, Marten brings us delicate melodies, elegant yet soaring orchestration and warming lines which demand to be digested one bar at a time.

Leaning into the folk styles of John Martyn and Laura Marling, the album explores the aching and all-encompassing jaunt love can provide and the complexity of humanity behind it. Marten described the album in a recent interview as capturing the “vibrancy, unpredictability, and occasional chaos one can experience in a relationship.” Her first track ‘New Idea’ launches us into a two-and-a-half minute soundscape setting the tone for the rest of the album, while ‘I Can’t Get My Head Around You’ quickly establishes itself as a heart-warming ballad with a melancholic twang of emotions that only a mandolin could summon. 

A testament to the notion of “less is more“, ‘Willow’ and ‘Bend To Him’ explore a lyrical sweetness like no other with minimal instrumentation. Lyrics like, “Two weeping willows throwing an arm to another” encourage a clear examination of the connection between humanity and nature, something that has often been forgotten in recent times but has always had a firm place in Marten’s writing and life. Her vocals can only be described as tenderly comforting, and it’s clear how her choice of every note in every line successfully takes priority before the consideration of range.

Continuing onwards, the harmonies resemble something like caramel in ‘Acid Tooth’, while the stunning ‘Devil Swims’ is reminiscent of a Twin Peaks tune. And ‘This Is How We Move’ and ‘Nothing But Mine’ feel like familiar friends, positive and memorable as we sway through the ripples of her writing.

From the first note until the last breath, Billie Marten’s newest record feels like an honest and intimate look into her life, as the enchanting singer shares another melancholic and poetic take on love, which might just be her most personal one yet. With a tour on the horizon and much more to come, we already cannot wait to see the continued story will unfold.

Written by Holly McClenaghan // photography by Katie Silvester

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