Track Review: MarthaGunn: Saint Cecilia

‘Intoxicating vocals and soaring textures make it anthemically euphoric.’

Intro to MarthaGunn:
Even if you didn’t know that Brighton based 5 piece MarthaGunn were influenced by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, within seconds of hearing their music you could work it out. Formed back in 2015 and fronted by the stunning lead vocals of Abi Woodman, their tracks have seen them put a new spin on a classic sound. With releases to date including the debut Honey Let Me Know leading to appearances at The Great Escape Festival and recordings for the The Crypt Sessions, it has certainly been a strong start. However, with their latest track ‘Saint Cecilia’ packing a real punch, and the band currently mid-tour, it would seem that MarthaGunn are on track for sure-fire success.

Track Review:
Delivering immediate momentum, rhythmically ticking high hat and accentuated bass lines introduce us to Saint Cecilia. Like the band themselves, she is determined, full of anticipation and sure to give us incredible musicality. And wow does she do this. It may only be a few seconds in but with sustained synth chords shifting to become more driven and guitar centred, she certainly makes sure to display all her characteristics.

Feeling restrained but filled with energy, the first verse gives the perfect balance of forthcoming sounds. It isn’t full throttle. And it is most definitely not relaxed. However, what it is, is a combination of intoxicating reverb-filled vocals and 70’s inspired guitar lines. Sitting among the mix rather than aloft, every element is given equal prominence resulting in us hearing exactly what we would want to at the exact moment we would want to hear it. Take the way the interlinking guitar melodies break through the polyphony between the lyrics as just one example.

Not forgetting that we are only at the opening sections of the track at this point, we arrive the chorus for the first time. Calling to us in a reserved way, the title based lyrics of ‘Saint Cecelia I don’t hear ya anymore’ speak to us in a way that may well be calmer than you expect. Where is the power we felt she may give us? Oh, hello post-chorus there it is! Bursting into life, Saint Cecilia casts her restraint aside to reveal a goosebump-inducing texture of soaring, Fleetwood Mac style guitar lines and pounding percussive elements. Ever-increasing in intensity, it’s truly something quite special.

Having just teased us with her powerful personality, the second verse sees her confidence move fully to the forefront. Rather than having the restrained sound of the first, this time it’s full-throttle with the multitude of accompanying features verging on the edge of taking over. But they don’t. In a further demonstration of MarthaGunn’s musicality, just as it teeters on the brink, the vocal pushes through. Nothing is lost and everything is our gain. Taking this to the next level, the rhythmical alterations that occur in the latter half wonderfully reflect the growing drama within the vocal delivery.

Working in a similar way to the contrasting settings of the verses, on reaching the re-emergence of the chorus, equal contrast is felt. Taking on an increasingly anthemic nature to before, the sound grows from its already heavy, yet refined sound and matching the textural growth, the power does likewise. Resulting in an incredible blend of elements including standout vocal leaps from Abi, you feel that this surely this has to be the climax. In truth though, it’s far from it.

Surprising us by suddenly becoming the most sparse of the whole track, you wonder if Saint Cecilia has just self-combusted. Does she really have any more to give? Considering the extent of the change in sound, it could well be the case that she doesn’t. However, digging deep into her reserves, intensely rhythmical drums combine with former guitar lines generating a renewed sense of anticipation. It’s little surprise then that as the fragmented title lyrics pan around us, she takes a finale breath and delivers a completely euphoric finale.

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MarthaGunn are part of Listen to Discover’s #FridayFindsFeaturedArtist series which you can keep up to date with on Twitter and Facebook.

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