As a fan of Marya Stark’s solo album, I was delighted to hear she had a new album out, and this collaboration with Mama Crow to form Scarlet Crow is real mixture of worldly tones, a celebration of femininity and nature – and lastly a gorgeously heart warming ear hug of natural instruments and two beautiful voices.
“It’s Easier” gently lands you into the album with an acceptance track. Both Crow and Stark’s voices compliment each other perfectly as they dovetail around each other. The simplicity of the track belies the musical craft at play – and that comes across the entire album. It’s not often you get something so acoustic and of the earth – one similar artist whom I also love is Ayla Nereo whom Scarlet Crow fall close to with “Luna”. The thick thumb piano and acoustic drums gently tap away behind a siren call to sleep. It’s such a calming piece and very grounding. Indeed, the feminine side of the album centres around the two’s pitch perfect vocal abilities. “In My Womb” is a wonderful discussion around the responsibility of a woman’s body and it’s spearheaded by strong vocal calls and pulsating beats.
However, the tones and topics for discussion are varied – and so are the musical styles. The Latin influence for “Run Little Lady” is absolutely sublime as the guitar interplay and the pacey vocals and percussion make for rousing street anthem and you’ll have on repeat as it discusses social issues with gun crime. There’s also the witchy, twisted side of “Bone Shaman Woman” which is equally inspired as it takes a Native and Aboriginal style and casts it in a shroud of mystery. “Hammer of Witches” takes it to an invocation with a pounding drum and a chant that reminds me of Ibeyi at times, with their French-Cuban influences. Interestingly the closing track “Space Grace Freedom” is also a chant and cry with a rippling bass synth bubbling underneath – one of the few times there’s not entirely natural instrumentation involved. To me gives an underlying stab at needing to be free from the technology world and bring us closer a more grounded world.
Elsewhere, jazz and folk elements are brought to fore in some beautiful tracks. “Edge to Edge”, “Melt Away” and “Scarlet Moon” are three exquisite quieter tracks that are lyrically complex and soothing to listen to. Lastly there’s two ethereal tracks with the historical “Child of Magdalene” which is a string and vocal piece and “All or Nothing” that uses soft keyboard pads and guitar plucking to create a pilgrimage plod to a sweepingly grande track.
I think what is great about this album is that you go into it expecting a certain sound, but Scarlet Crow really has a wide palette of styles and things to say. Each track surprises but as an album its really coherent and a wonderful listen. Certainly my surprise of the year so, this will be well up come the albums of 2017 award here at Higher Plain Music.
Recommended Track : In My Womb