Thursday, December 06, 2012
WRAPPING UP 2012 with Laura J Martin
January this year saw the release of Laura J Martin’s debut full-length player “The Hangman Tree”: “intricately arranged, jaunty folk-jazz excursions, mixing eastern vibes and a percussive, soulful swing, all powered by flute, mandolin, xylophone or piano with Martin’s vocals switching from child-like (but never infantile) innocence to breathy sultriness”. The tail end of the year saw a collaborative EP with Mike Linday (Tuung/Cheek Mountain Thief) released under the name Bónus Skór, both this and the album on the excellent Static Caravan. So 2012 has been bookended by family feuds, Morecombe Bay, careless ninjas and 17th century Japanese arsonists at one end, then salty tales of fish scales and apple carts at the other. And in between Ms Martin has toured relentlessly. A year of travels literal and musical.
“These spry, gnomic songs echo Slapp Happy’s downmarket Weimar bohemia or the inveterate oddness of The Raincoats “Odyshape”” reckoned Uncut on “The Hangman Tree”. I prefer The Word: “an Oliver Postgate vision of Kate Bush”. Whatever your reference points, there’s no disputing she’s an original.
Having consistently failed to see Laura J Martin prior to this year, I made sure 2012 was about catching up, seeing her in January, in May for Sounds From The Other City, in June for No Direction Home and in August for Green Man Festival (and I haven’t finished yet).
So what does the well-travelled Liverpudlian make of 2012?
What I will remember most about 2012 is...
My trip to Iceland and recording the Bónus Skór EP with Mike Lindsay. A wonderful eerie beautiful place.
What should be forgotten about 2012?
Usually things are painfully etched on my memory forever, but maybe my cover of Phil Collins’ ‘Sussudio’.
The best gig I played was...
A toss up between Ladyfest in Paris and the Union Chapel, I really hope it doesn't get closed down as a live venue.
The best gig I saw was...
Jonathan Richman at Green Man.
A record from 2012 that will be still be played in 10 years time?
’Spy’ of course!
Overlooked in 2012?
My friend and esteemed colleague Jess Swainson is an amazing artist. She should be minted by now in my humble opinion.
And what can we look forward to in 2013 from Laura J Martin?
The second album is being mixed at the moment so another album hopefully.
Hopefully? If it’s being mixed now surely that’s a certainty?
Laura J Martin may be may be sparing in her responses and social media pronouncements and may appear diminutive on stage in stockinged feet but there is no doubt that both on record and live she is a formidable force with plenty to say. She also has an impressive address book – “The Hangman Tree” features collaborations with Euros Childs and Buck 65 plus she has worked with Richard James, Sweet Baboo and The Simonsound amongst others. For her two final live shows of the year more collaborations and surprises are hinted at. Don’t miss either the Cloud Sounds Xmas Bash in Manchester on 14 December with Y Niwl or the Kings Place, London gig on 21 December to see what may come of these. A magical end to a fairy-tale year?