Irish folk artist Joanna Marie’s journey into the world of music was kick-started by her brother bringing her a guitar when she was eighteen years old. That, and the discovery of musician Joni Mitchell were inspiration enough to get her writing and composing material of her own. It was to be a fateful meeting with Ola Ersfjord that really got things going though.
Marie made the acquaintance of the Swedish producer while partaking in a diploma in Songwriting at BIMM Dublin in 2012. This began a chain of events that included a successful Fund.it campaign and culminated in the creation of her debut EP, Cold on the Coast. Mixed at Ersfjord’s studio in Sweden, the singer/songwriter officially launched her inaugural compilation at Whelan’s in July of 2014 to critical acclaim.
Starting with its title track, the record features a simple and sombre acoustic introduction. This prefaces a vivid harmony that enthralls as it reverberates through the senses. The instrumentation builds constantly as the piece progresses, generating plenty of warmth and passion as it does so.
It’s followed by the stirring guitars and cutting melody of “Down to the River”. Together, they stomp forward with determination. The haunting vocals and gripping instrumental work make a forceful impact, captivating as they unfold. “The Way Back” is a little more reserved in its wake. A solemn opening trots slowly towards a more lively and animated chorus, soothing through its pleasant melody and music. It’s a marvellously eloquent and affable number.
“Don’t take the Sunset” succeeds it via subtle guitars that unfold behind a soft and vibrant harmony. The hushed execution and gentle pace makes it all the more absorbing as it gradually grows into a characterful acoustic riff and powerful vocals. It’s a poignant finale that cuts deep and stirs up a lot of emotion.
Since the EP dropped last summer, Marie has been continuing to build up a following and make a name for herself by staying active on the live scene. She also made a return to the studio to record her latest offering, “Finding Our Feet”; a moving song about the naivete of youth and how we never truly escape it. Beginning with a rousing riff, the spotlight is soon stolen by strikingly resonant vocals. As more and more instrumental elements are added to the fold, it takes on an increasingly epic feel, while the rich harmony continues to mesmerise.
The material that Marie has produced so far has a deep and meaningful sound which allows for an easy listen. Each of the above tracks are extremely accessible folk compositions, brought to life through affective instrumentation and elegant vocals that are rich with expression. This is one homegrown artist that is definitely worth looking into. Both Cold on the Coast and “Finding Our Feet” are available on Bandcamp now.
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