Over the course of the few years, Marya Stark’s music has quickly transitioned from something that was piano-based chamber folk with a spiritual element into something that is more tribal and spiritual first, with splashes of chamber folk behind the scenes. This comes to its purest form with her new album “Lineage” which continues to speak of the passing of knowledge between mother and daughter.
The album is primarily a vocal one. Across the 14 tracks, Stark’s voice is front and centre, layered over herself to create a mother/daughter bond as women speaking wisdom to each other and keeping that cord unravelling. “Centre of the Wheel” marks this intent perfectly in the lyrics before the tribal drums of “Lineage” bounds it into your soul. The style reminds me of the amazing aboriginal band Tiddas. The vocals lead the way with playful or soulful backing vocals and simple percussion and occasional guitars or tuned percussion along the way. It’s amazing how many styles you can get out of a few simple instruments.
Standouts for me are the Asian “Ishtar” with its wonderful darbuka and droning raj behind the main melody, “Bone by Bone” which flips from a ritual like pagan chant to a poetic spoken word verse, the soft hushed coo’s of “Prosperity Codex”, the running trickle of percussive beats to the excellent “Blood Rose” and the closing vocal collage of “Ancient Voices” which is the only track to feature a guitar of sorts. It feels so ethereal compared to the rest of the album – it’s a beauty to behold. The rest of the tracks all tread a familiar vocal and beat montage. The drums come from different regions of the world, but always from the roots of the Earth and whilst I’m generalising, they all are unique and have their own nuanced feel.
“Lineage” is a daring album that is stripped right down to its bare minimum. What I found interesting was that when Marya twists that formula a little, its there where the pure magic is. This is an album about connection and clarity of knowledge and wisdom – and the production and song composition absolutely back this up. It may be a bit stark for a few people, but if you enjoy something a bit more worldly, vocal-based or anything that dives back to the ancient ways – this is likely to be one of your top albums of the year. Contender for grower of the year for me.
Recommended track: “Lineage”