Leicester’s queen of ambient alt-folk Martha Bean releases her new EP Here Comes The Snowstorm on Friday 15th November. To celebrate, RockShot is premiering the track Circles.
Written and composed by Martha in Canada, the song was inspired by watching fireflies dancing in the night sky, seeking partners. Martha was struck by how we all essentially follow a similar ritual.
The song’s gently pulsing percussion and sweetly swirling strings give it a cyclical feel, which fits the radiant chorus (“Keep it going round and around”) atop a lilting, picked guitar and perfectly deployed double bass.
Circles is one of five songs on Here Comes The Snowstorm. Though united by a bittersweet theme, each of the songs stands alone, inspired by real events. There’s the eponymous tale in Slippers to a Wedding (“We aren’t perfect – we have to laugh at each other,” says Martha); the emotional vision of a lonely widow captured on Beneath the Shadows; or the hopes and fears of a new mum expressed on When I Hold You In My Arms (Martha became a first-time mother, to Leon, this February), the highs and lows of contemporary existence are all on show.
”Life rarely brings blocks of pure joy or pure despair. More often the emotions – hope and hopelessness; gravity and levity – all bleed into one another, and I hope these songs reflect that,” Martha reveals.
Conveyed via ambient alt-folk topped by Martha’s silky vocals, her songs evoke artists such as Fionn Regan, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lisa Hannigan. They were recorded and engineered at home by Martha herself, who also played guitar, piano, mandolin, and bass, as well as scoring all the string parts.
Co-produced by Martha’s partner Joel Evans (aka Tiny Eyes), who provided percussion, synths, and Wurlitzer piano, the EP features Joe Manger on drums, Rob Rosa (Maniere des Bohémiens) on violin, Mirka Hoppari on viola, and Martha’s father John on cello.
Martha began her musical journey early – at the age of three, she began writing melodies on the piano, but refused lessons from her mum (a piano teacher). She turned her hand to any instrument she could get hold of, which, growing up in a musical household, wasn’t too difficult.
Following on from these creative beginnings, Martha infused her own material with a broad set of influences, from singer-songwriters Fionn Regan, Nilüfer Yanya, Nick Drake, and Andy Shauf to Radiohead and Grizzly Bear. This sonic template has been further expanded by supporting the likes of Scott Matthews, Marika Hackman, and Seth Lakeman, while her songs have been played on 6Music, and featured on trailers for primetime BBC TV shows, as well as advertising campaigns. Her debut LP When Shadows Return To The Sea won favourable comparisons to the likes of Fiona Apple and Norah Jones, upon release in 2015.
Here Comes The Snowstorm looks set to continue the trend.