Release Date: Apr 30, 2013
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Folk, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk, British Folk
At the tender age of 22, Alessi Laurent-Marke could be forgiven for feeling jaded with the tumultuous life of a musician, with this being her third full-length -- not to mention the clutch of EPs that have appeared since 2008's The Horse EP -- on two very different labels. Pegged in the same hole as Virgin's other indie folk songstress, Laura Marling, for her debut, Alessi's Ark made the change to the independent talent pool of Bella Union. Her sophomore effort, Time Travel, was released on the indie label and saw her expand her storytelling folk style, yet here on The Still Life she has begun to solidify and challenge her undoubted songwriting ability.
Aah, the still life; one of the art class’s perennial favourites. The anguish of the crushed Coke can, the symbolic wilting flowers, the fruit bowl so full of promise… But how to render the familiar in fresh colours and hues? How to glean something new for the jaded-eyed viewer? Thankfully there are no such problemettes with Alessi Laurent-Marke’s third musical venture. Moving on from her pre-17 major deal signing self and her wilfully arty gauche folk DIY-isms flecked with Americana, The Still Life sees her finding more of her own voice and expression.
Having left Virgin to join the hothouse of talent that is Bella Union in 2010, Alessi’s Ark serves The Still Life, her third release for the independent label, which expands nicely on the foundations of her Soul Proprietor EP and subsequent long-player, Time Travel. With Now It’s Overhead’s Andy LeMaster helming the production, The Still Life sees Alessi Laurent-Marke fine-tuning her songwriting and delivering crystal clear vocals against a backdrop of simple, effective arrangements. Recorded in Athens, Georgia, the thirteen tracks stand as a cohesive and consistent set.
Alessi’s Ark, the vessel for singer-songwriter Alessi Laurent-Marke’s precocious talent, now has a third studio album with the release of The Still Life. The blossoming West London artist has yet to celebrate her 23rd birthday, but Laurent-Marke’s voice is striking, capable of simultaneous seduction and subversion. The singer would be a shoe-in for the kind of outwardly puzzled, yet knowing heroine you might find in a David Lynch work.
There are definite downsides to starting out early in the music business. While it feels safe to say that Alessi Laurent-Marke hasn’t had a monkey confiscated nor endured too many embarrassing paparazzi bust-ups, she does find herself releasing a third album – and thus edging that bit closer to being “established”—at just 22. When artists reach that big old number three, it tends to make us scrutinise songs ever more closely when performers like Laurent-Marke are, in the grand scheme of things, still just starting out.
The last time we heard from her, Alessi Laurent-Marke – minus her Ark – was lending her soft vocals to the tactile soundscape of Orlando Weeks’ side project Young Colossus. It seems she’s taken detailed notes from that experience on new album ‘The Still Life’. Gone are the understated melodies of previous record ‘Time Travel’, being replaced by more elaborate arrangements instead.