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Marya Stark – “The Garden” Review

ImageI came across Marya Stark’s music from her involvement with Lila Rose. Lila was one of my favourite discoveries of 2012 and with Marya’s album “The Garden”, I have found my first big discovery of 2013.

“The Garden” opens with its title track and sets you up for a what is a diverse singer/songwriter trot across various genres and penchants. Marya’s voice is silky smooth but strong. The production is crisp and clear. The instruments have acoustic guitar laying down the initial bed before drums, strings, bass and bells start merging in. “Crossroads” equally has some delicate guitar work that underpins the rest of instruments. Plenty of minor chords seep through while Stark makes sure her vocals wrap themselves around the guitar. It’s emotive and clever to have such a bubbling undercurrent pushing the song along whilst the vocals are for the most part serene  The middle section is spellbinding as everything clashes together for the finale. It’s a magnificent piece from start to end.

“Witness” in turn takes things Eastern with some beautifully warm woodwind, percussion and strings. The interplay between the Indian flute and the vocals works perfectly and the stop/start verses give everything definition. You’ll want to bathe in the warmth. “Healer Of All Wounds” veers Western with a folksy country tinged acoustic Hobbiton lullaby. Marya’s high register vocals here are crystal like and again there’s warmth throughout the emotional track. “Mosaic Hearts” is the radio friendly top down driving track. The guitar riffs are cute and pert whilst the choruses and hand waving anthemic. Stark is equally capable of writing three-minute hooks as she is scoring five-minute epic stories.

“Whimsical Dance” is curiously playful with its bluesy turned down beats and keys. The bridges are especially fun and the added brass gives an overall cabaret rock flavour to proceedings. “Lightning In A Bottle” reminds me very much of Sarah Slean with its theatrical Spanish Guitar and massive vocal montages that build as the percussion explodes and chords free-fall into chaos. “Secret Song” has its production made spacious and vast so everything feels like distant echoes and far away from your ear. The result is a lack of low-end to the track which makes every guitar pluck and vocal inflection sound pure and ethereal.

“Oh Infatuation Of Mine” gives us a French Waltz with some great instrumentation and percussive edges. It also has a Persian feel behind the scenes too but again Marya makes everything have a theatrical feel. There’s a great energy to this track which I can’t quite place but I love it. “Toast To Loneliness” is simply beautiful and beautifully simple. Sometimes less is more of the song structure front and here Stark by name, Stark by nature – this is a wonderfully understated gem. “Rod of Measure” is much the playful twin to the previous track as a plucky guitar/vocal track until its dramatic conclusion where Marya really lets everything out unlike any other part of the album.

“Funny Little Thing” has the whimsy side down to perfection with guitar harmonics and fun chord progressions. Marya’s lyrics fly out at speed and there’s a whole shugging-of-shoulders that you can feel throughout. The album closes out with “Under Your Wing” which  hits completely left-field when Marya unveils an operatic voice which is underpinned by accordion and guitar that’s being played through the intercom.

“The Garden” really does feel like the place for everything. The album just doesn’t sit still and each song has moments where you sit back and think “wow”. Marya Stark’s album genuinely impresses and impales your heart. Mesmerising from start to end. I want everyone to hear her.

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