A mixture of spiritual folk and alternative singer/songwriter punch.
Over the course of several albums, Marya Stark has flipped between two strands of music. The former was largely singer/songwriter focused with a penchant for piano, guitar and vocal lead tracks. The more recent music has involved much more spiritual, often folk or world driven music. This included the superb vocal collaboration, Scarlet Crow. With her new album ‘Sapphire’, it feels like Marya Stark is now bridging the divide with a dream folk merger of the two sides together.
The album opens with ‘Echo’ that sets the tone for the album immediately. Its acoustic guitar, soft synths, warm drums and fiddle embellishments evoke a cinematic folk vibe. Marya’s voice weaves from mystic to motherly to feminine strength as she quickly reels of lyrics at Alanis Morissette speed. It’s something she also does with would-be sleeper hit ‘Stargazer’ as poppy strings, dramatic drums and an evocative fiddle bursts in. The track is a surging sea shanty for the delicate skies. Moving towards dream pop, warm strings and synths lead the way with poppier track ‘In Between’. Marya showcases how a soft but solid voice can do so much in a dreamscape of music. It reminds me a little of Emmy Rossum’s album.
After a triple header of anthemic catchy uptempo numbers that give rise to positive emotions, Marya Stark turns to the mysterious for the next set. Title track ‘Sapphire’ is a lush tapestry of synths, strings, bells and layers of vocals that mix Celtic and Spanish undertones in a night sky. It is easily one of my favourite tracks of her to date. In keeping with the Celtic vibe, soaring strings and falsetto ooh’s alongside marching drums make ‘Blood Of The Stone’ an absolute gem to enjoy too. Add in a swirling harp and a mammoth middle section that could score a fantasy movies Hero montage and you’ve got gold. ‘Celestial Butterflies’ then fuses country, barn dance and English folk together for a gentle dainty skip. The way the track is recorded gives it an Indian flavour too as the harp and strings play together like a tambour.
The album then moves further into the world of mysticism and divinity with ‘Negra Luz’. A beautiful track that showcases Marya’s light and airy higher register, she sings alongside a thumb piano and Latin guitar. When even the ballads are densely packed together, this track is a vibrant space to breathe in as it is so light and distant. ‘Baptism’ is the outwardly spiritual piece that starts off small and gentle before exploding into a string and vocal ascension as the music is born. It is an interesting lyrically spin to sing about the birth of music in this light and as a creative person myself, it does make me think more about the creative process. Marya sings from the position as a mother giving birth to her work. ‘Crystal Chambers’ is an epic seven-minute slow burn that channels Enya with synths. It never truly erupts from its slow burn but it swells into a much more powerful sway that ends on a pessimistic note about the future of the world. This is then resolved in the albums closing track ‘Rose Lineage’. As if things can be washed anew, the album closes with a reawakening raj of Indian instruments, synth drones and plenty of peace and serenity. It is a great way to conclude the album with hope. ‘She is ready and not a moment too soon’ is the last lyric of the album, suggesting that Earth will have her day of days yet. Let’s hope.
‘Sapphire’ is a beautiful album that revels in its lush and warm sound design. Marya Stark works wonders merging together her singer/songwriter traits with her more spiritual folk sound to create something that will please both sides of the equation. If you enjoy your dream folk with a large slice of mystery – this is right up your forest.
Recommended track: Sapphire
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