Sunday, 1 May 2011

Review: Mara Carlyle Live at The Forge [Camden Crawl]

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I've long loved Mara's album The Lovely (which admittedly I may not have heard if I didn't work with the label it came out on - you can listen in full below), so perhaps this afternoon's performance shouldn't have come as such a shock to me, and yet somehow it did. I had wrongly assumed that the vocal perfection on that recording was impossible to recreate live, and that no singer would dare. I was incorrect.  



As you can hear above, Mara's music is exceptionally classy, so her humble charm
and joking familiarity in between tracks feels a bit like being snapped suddenly out of a dream you don't want to end by your practical sibling. The moment she picks up her saw (she plays the saw and guitars of varying sizes) and begins to sing everything in the room changes. From a technical standpoint the woman is a marvel and her vocal range is extraordinary, but that's not really the point. We traveled with her through the most incredible range of emotions, from agonizing lament to soaring afternoon delight (Baby Bloodheart is about an orgasm), to a stunning Vietnamese folk song Mara somehow seamlessly mixed with... Amerie "One Thing".

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At various points I found myself slack-jawed, misting up, and I think my heartbeat became worryingly irregular when she performed a single verse of Pianni. Some of Mara's band also seemed equally amazed by her (including the gorgeous double bass player Arista of the Guillemots, who when off-stage made faces of varying incredulity). It seemed odd until Mara explained the band had only met each other 20 minutes before the show, a fact I am still trying to get my head around. They really brought the album to life with such stunning vibrancy and layered depths.

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Possibly the most exciting part of the show was the announcement that Mara's second album Nuzzle, which has been completed for at least three years and suspended in major label purgatory, is finally coming out this July. We await with baited breath.

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