thu 18/07/2024

Album: Marina Allen - Eight Pointed Star | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Marina Allen - Eight Pointed Star

Album: Marina Allen - Eight Pointed Star

US singer-songwriter’s third album’s nod to Americana is a feint

Marina Allen's 'Eight Pointed Star': unrestricted

While some tracks on Marina Allen’s third album are country accented and a pedal steel is used a few times, it’s impossible to categorise Eight Pointed Star as Americana. Its sixth track, “Easy”, has the closeted atmosphere of The Velvet Underground’s third album. Next up, the driving “Love Comes Back” has a dash of former Go-Between Robert Forster about it.

However, the nods towards a previously uncharted rootsiness do confirm a change in emphasis for the US singer-songwriter. Eight Pointed Star lacks the jazziness of Allen’s last album, 2022’s Centrifics. The very precise arrangements from there are also absent. Instead, this feels more like a band recording: voice, guitar, bass, piano, drums, some other instruments for added colour rather than as musculature fundamental to the songs. Impressions of capturing something live in the studio are enhanced when the opening couple of tracks conclude with one instrument after another dropping out. No hard endings. Graduated conclusions instead. Americana is a wrapper employed to aid embracing this newly organic approach. All of which adds up to evidence of a greater confidence.

Where lyrics were about probing boundaries, Allen is now unrestricted: “through a swinging door, I’ve never known it like this before, I don’t go backwards any more,” she sings on “Swinging Doors”; “Easy” declares “on a postcard you draw infinity… peace after all, the open door down the hall.” Particular markers remain though. The hints of Judee Sill. Sudden melodic shifts in the manner of Laura Nyro. A Laurel Canyon vibe.

Early in 2023, when last playing the UK, the opening song in her set was the as-yet unrecorded “I’m the Same,” now the opening track of her new album. It felt of a piece with the songs from Centrifics she played. Here, it is re-arranged, effectively re-written. Things, then, are not the same. And with Eight Pointed Star Marina Allen confirms that, for her, stasis is not an option.

@MrKieronTyler

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