Marten is unassuming, casually dressed in jeans, her face framed in a whispy blonde halo of hair. It is quickly made apparent by the absence of any other body on stage that this will be a solo act, accompanied by her own acoustic guitar. Only for new single, ‘Bird’, does a keyboardist join her. But from the simple beauty of her work which gravitates to the nu-folk sound of Marling, Mumfords et al., one feels that the addition of a band would detract rather than enhance her sound. Each song has a base of sweetly melodic guitar noodling that is free to ring out unaffected in this small North Waleian venue.
Performing to an audience little over thirty could be disheartening for some, but the intimacy is well matched to Marten’s soft voice. A dozen cluster in front of the stage right by Marten’s feet, as if they can’t get close enough to the gentle power of her music. Material from her ‘Ribbon’ EP goes down a treat, including the especially folky title track, replete with minor intervals and appropriately pensive lyrics.
Marten quietly delivers song after song without a hitch, showing her to be a conscientious spirit, rare in a world of half hearted performances and forgotten lyrics. New single ‘Bird’ is the stand out track that poignantly communicates sadness with well crafted lines such as “she’s underwater again, somebody’s daughter, a friend”. However, a sense of warmth permeates the music, with a steady suspension-resolution cycle in the piano chords, Marten’s voice unobtrusive and tender.
With a bashfully absurd adieu of “Thank you, I’ll get out of your way now”, Marten puts down her guitar and exits stage right. As clarified by more than one small titter rising from the audience at this sendoff, no one wanted her to get out of the way for anyone.
Listen to Billie Marten’s new single ‘Bird’ on Spotify here, available to download from iTunes now. Watch out for the debut album…