|Friday 24 June 2016 @ 09:00pm : -
Ma Polaine’s Great Decline
In June 2016 Ma Polaine’s Great Decline follow their debut album with a third EP release, “Small Town Talk”, available on 10” vinyl, CD and download. Recorded in 2015 and engineered and co-produced by BBC Folk Award winner Ben Walker at The Crypt Studio in Crouch End, London, with additional sessions at Ben’s home studio and at MPGD HQ, the 4-track vinyl and CD release draws influence from a typically wide breadth of genres.
From the start Beth Packer and Clinton Hough always sought to keep their song-writing influences open. A strong base of blues is there, with jazz and country also holding sway, the band started accidentally out of an attempt to cover a blues song. Clinton Hough had joined Beth Packer’s blues band in 2010 and from that attempted cover spawned the first MPGD song, Pigfoot Blues, which in turn became Harvey, the lazy Cajun blues of this EP.
As Ma Polaine’s Great Decline began to take shape and the blues band fell away, for Packer and Hough music came to mean something different than up-tempo rhythm and blues in Soho at 1am. Original writing is the focus, with oddness, sparsity and a subtle quality that is their own, allowing Packer the space to explore her vocal qualities and lyric writing. And the lyrics can be hard to explain, sometimes so personal a full confession isn’t comfortable, but the listener can interpret a lyric any way they like.
The live band has moved through several line-ups and have recently returned to their roots as a duo, this recording came at the completion of that full circle, so from the long serving Jon Gillies and Chris Clavo only Clavo appears, providing bass on two songs. This development wasn’t in the original plan, but as songs take shape in the studio plans quickly change. Live Packer moves between double bass, accordion and harmonica, with Hough on electric or acoustic guitar and an occasional percussive foot, all accompanying Packer’s powerful yet sensitive vocal.
The Small Town Talk tour takes in some of the best independent small venues, including an aim to sell-out the Green Note for a fifth consecutive time, building on 2015’s nomination as an emerging artist in the British Blues Awards, winning a Reveal Records emerging act competition, an international song-writing semi-final spot for Suffer It Well from 2013 EP of the same name. Following the EP tour Ma Polaine’s Great Decline appear at several festivals, such as Towersey, Marlborough Jazz, Wonderfields, Sandwich Folk and Ale and Nailsworth Arts, to name a few.
"5 stars", "it’s the singer’s compelling and never overplayed delivery, however, that gives this set its sustained, just-under-the surface intensity" ~ Roots Music Report
"8/10", "Crying out to be used on sound tracks. A very cinematic sound.. The icing on the cake is their vocalist. Stunning singer Beth Packer is someone to get to know" ~ Blues And Soul Magazine
"an utterly compelling soundscape", “sounds like a young Billie Holiday gate-crashing a Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones recording session”. “4/5” ~ Northern Sky Magazine
"like some new wonderful step in evolution, an album of great warmth and heroic concealment", "the most complete and uniquely enjoyable of the year so far". “9.5/10” ~ Liverpool Sound And Vision
"...they have created their own sound wonderfully" ~ Penny Black Music
"hard to ignore when it comes to an eclectic mix" ~ Mike Ainscoe, Sonic Bandwagon