For her third record, ‘Flora Fauna’, Billie Marten inhales the earth. Of course there are other, less poetic ways of saying this: Billie throws nature on her face, she plays in the mud, she eats dirt and she spits it back out again. But regardless of the way that you choose to look at this girl, with bits of grass and gravel clinging to her teeth and cheeks, Billie’s devilish smile promises a record that is free-spirited, soulful and gritty.
The intelligent thing about ‘Flora Fauna’ is that you can think about this record in every single one of those ways. For this album, Billie has taken her minimalistic acoustic folk and given it a more intricate soundscape. She uses a bass guitar as the backbone of her rhythm, a choice that was inspired by an impulsive drunk decision. Or so we’ve heard.
Openers ‘Garden Of Eden’ and ‘Creature Of Mine’ find Billie shedding the skin of her youth, exploring different synaesthetic textures and elements of the nature that surrounds her. She finds empathy in the earth, being the one constant in this ever-changing and unpredictable life.
Billie doesn’t give us time to mourn the loss of the waif-like, earth-child that we became so familiar with in ‘Writing Of Blues And Yellows’ – and quite frankly we don’t need to. ‘Human Replacement’ sees a different side to Billie Marten. Like another Billie that we know and love, she takes ownership over image. She puts on her war-paint and prowls down the streets of London in a massive tank. No one dares to raise an eyebrow.
In ‘Pigeon’, we imagine Billie sitting on the tube, humming to herself as she becomes more and more pissed off by the sight of the advertisements plastered on every flat surface, images that demand her attention. In a stream-of-consciousness, she pokes fun at the irony that we are constantly being fed dirt, and being told that it’s good for us. Modern life is suffocating, but Billie provides sweet relief in her buttery tones.
Brought to a close with ‘Walnut’ and ‘Aquarium’, these peaceful affirmations let us float within them. These tracks are like messages in glass bottles, making their journey from one continent to another, across a calm sea. Pure serenity.
‘Flora Fauna’ is proof that a woman can be many things. She can eat the earth and become it, or like an archer with a bow and arrow, she can throw heavy clumps of mud at the things that stand in her way.
Words: Jessica Fynn
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