Smooth and heartfelt acoustic folk
Singer-songwriters that work in acoustic folk music can work with being jaunty and jagged or they can create a smooth like honey texture with their sound. Marin Patenaude absolutely sits in Manuka on the honey scale. Her roots folk, that nods but never veers towards country, is a heartwarming whiskey evening of music that gives me a bold idea for a description.
Marin Patenaude is the Sarah McLachlan of country tinged folk.
From the rootsy twangs of ‘Don’t Sell The Farm’ you’d think you are about to experience a traditional cowgirl ditty. Then the piano steams in halfway and we turn towards a flowing and passionate alt-pop bridge that swells your heart. ‘The Build’ starts off like a hazy mountain song only to blossom into a fully formed southern storm. ‘Gone Blind in Sight Unseen’ nods towards artists like Beth Orton before unleashing a mega electric guitar solo. Not one song sits still and you are consistently surprised at how songs transform over their stay. Through it all, the production is beautifully lavish and each instrument has an innate warmth. This warmth is backed up entirely by Marin’s voice. She is expressive, emotive, strong and feminine. She feels wise and the music often feels like its guiding you towards something.
The latter half of the album settles into more traditional country folk. It feels less experimental but cohesive. The standout here is ‘Paint It Green’ which feels like a road trip where the guitar wants to break out into a full-on alt-rock number as it grizzles and gargles but is never unleashed fully. I’m sure country fans will love ‘Cold Front’ too as it fully embraces that signature twang.
There is a lot to like about Marin Patenaude and her second album ‘Sight Unseen’. As someone who doesn’t usually enjoy country music, this is a really interesting gateway album where I could enjoy the more varied opening half which are rockier and more emotionally driven. That then allowed me to appreciate the more standard American Love Songs more when I got to them. I fully appreciate though that I am in the minority and likely most fans will be coming in from the other direction. There’s room for both.
Recommended track: The Build
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