Emilia Mårtensson, Swedish-born and London-based, developed this, her fourth album, to celebrate the mother-child relationship – Loredana is her mother’s name. The resulting nine-song collection is always intriguing, often beautiful and thought-provoking.
Throughout, Mårtensson’s vocals are superb: light, expressive, they project the at-times opaque lyrics with sincerity. Although the overall feel of the album is upbeat and positive, here is a side to some of these songs which, if not obviously dark, is at the least mysterious. An obvious example is Aino – co-credited to Mårtensson, Boscagin and Sigurta – with its repeated line “Oh mother, what have you done” sung over Lasserson’s single repeated bass note and Sigurta’s ethereal, muted trumpet.
Arm Ourselves (Against Ourselves), written by Mårtensson’s friend Barnaby Keen, is a lovely way to open any album, even though its lyric may be on the pessimistic side. Luca Boscagin’s guitar riff underpins Mårtensson’s delicate interpretation of Keen’s words. Jamie Doe’s Weariest River is characterised by understated instrumental backing that highlights Mårtensson’s heartfelt vocal.
Indeed, this tendency to understatement on the part of the instrumentalists is key to much of the album: Mårtensson gets the space she needs to project her stories with the intensity they deserve.
Arm Ourselves (Against Ourselves); There (Reversed Lullaby); Weariest River; Loredana; Aino; Jag Unnar Dej Ändå Allt Gott; One More For Ana; Shine A Light On; Be Still – Grow (37.00)
Mårtensson (v); Luca Boscagin (elg); Fulvio Sigurta (t, elec); Adriano Adewale (pc); Sam Lasserson (b). London, 2018.