In my opinion, by some stroke of ‘luck’, I have been selected/allowed to glimpse into the future of what is yet to come for talented singer-songwriter Billie Marten. Despite not believing myself to be worthy, after invitation, I did not pass down the opportunity to treat my ears to the new EP from this majestic rising star known as Billie Marten – her brand new EP As Long As is out today (November 13) for your listening pleasure.
The first time I was lucky enough to be graced by Billie’s voice was last year in my search for some ‘good Christmas music’. I’m talking no cheese, tacky-ness, or overall poppy music cringe. I thankfully stumbled across her track “Winter Song” which appeared on a charity Christmas compilation album. Resembling the sound of a classic sombre Laura Marling ditty, this folky frosty track was playing on my music library long after the ice melted. As the year progressed, so too did Billie’s silence. However, this was only until a promise was announced of an EP and the release of her single “Bird” which charmingly made its way onto the airwaves, indicating she is back and ready to make her mark.
At the young age of 16, Billie is blossoming into one the most promising yougn artists the world has to offer, and is making it look easy. As Long As will follow the release of her debut album Ribbon which came out in 2014. However, this time round, with the helping hand of Chess Club Records, the four track offering presents the original soul and raw nature of her debut taster, but with new tools at her disposal thus refining her sound.
The task of establishing a unique sound and discovering inspiration whilst finding time and motivation to create new material is hard enough as it is for the most experienced of musician, let alone an aspiring teenage prodigy. Nevertheless, the collection of tracks appearing on As Long As were created over the last year, whilst also balancing her studies for her GCSEs alongside traversing the UK for meetings and live shows.
You can’t help but be impressed with the way young musicians like Billie even attempt to master dark themes appearing in indie-folk tracks such the ones featuring on this EP. Despite being so young, Billie’s bravery is evident, as she triumphantly delves deep into this area of creative songwriting. However, despite achieving this emotionally challenging level to produce her sound, somehow, it is her delicate and angelic vocals which continue to work harmoniously alongside it. Each track from her EP presents her stunning songwriting capabilities leaving the listener in awe of her enchanting demeanour.
The EP kicks off with “Roots”. After a delightful ambient intro setting the mood for the remainder of the track, her matured vocals quickly steal the show. Perhaps the softest song from the EP, her delicacy present in the tone of voice will soothe you from start to finish. Her layered vocal chorus of “haven’t we all” is sang beautifully, captivating you and dragging you right into the essence of the track. I applaud the minimalist approach of its simplistic acoustic nature, a track like this doesn’t need to be overcomplicated with a swarm of sounds drowning out its gentle soul.
The second track “Cursive” goes down a different route altogether. One most note this artist’s versatile nature, as light turns to dark in the transition from track one to two. Sombre undertones are ever present, as her melancholy lyrical storytelling leaves you feeling fragile and emotionally shaken. The power of her vocals come to life in “Cursive”, and despite being delivered almost as a whisper, they have the effect of being more hard hitting and louder than lyrics shouted at you by more experienced musicians. The simple slow beat of the drum and the guitar chords brilliantly reinforces the hopelessness expressed by Billie’s soft voice.
Billie’s third track “Bird” is the shining star of the four. In Billie’s own words lead track Bird is, “a song about how words can truly affect people, not always for the right reasons”. It’s an exploration of vulnerability, and how you can feel trapped in your own space all the time, even when no-one is actually with you. (“Hope is a distance unreached, ink on her skin incomplete, And the faint sound of friends, As she neared to the end she had peace”).
Her ability to craft lyrics to such a high state of maturity bemuses yet astonishes me. The ethereal nature of this track combined with her prophetic words is enough evidence to prove Billie has what it takes to make an everlasting impression on any listener. “Bird” has received plays across the country being released as Billie’s first single off the EP, with Radio 1’s Annie Mac making the track her Record of the Week.
Title track “As Long As” concludes the EP with passion. Her lyrical intimacy returns at its best, as her sorrowful cry attempts to find comfort in a world of hardships. Despite being infused with light strumming of her guitar and the introduction of piano notes here and there, her vocals are put on a pedestal once again overshadowing all that surrounds her voice. Eventually her instrumental side takes control as she adamantly finishes the track with an intense haunting acoustic guitar solo.
Billie is currently wrapping up a few performances around the UK supporting the fantastic folkstar Lucy Rose. What a role model to aspire to as she enters a musical world not too dissimilar to the main act. What a joy it has been to be amongst the first few lucky listeners of Billie Marten’s As Long As EP, which is available digitally now and physically, via 10” vinyl on the 20th of November. Purchase As Long As via iTunes here.
Words by Finn Brownbill