2019 has been the year of the solo-artist so far, with the likes of Stella Donnelly, Julia Jacklin, Weyes Blood, SOAK and Sharon Van Etten all releasing stunning albums. North Yorkshire’s Billie Marten, a soon-to-be alumnus of Dublin’s Sound House, can also lay claim to one of the best solo records of the year so far after releasing her second album ‘Feeding Seahorses By Hand’ at the end of April.
For those unaware of Marten’s talents thus far, she firmly falls into the dreamy end of the folk category, drawing comparisons to the likes of recent success stories such as Fenne Lily, Isaac Gracie as well as legends such as Kate Bush and Nick Drake. When you’ve got two songs on Spotify’s “The Most Beautiful Songs In The World” playlist, you must be doing something correct. Right?
Marten first caught the imagination of music fans in 2012, when performing on Yorkshire Youtube channel On’t Sofa. She released her debut EP ‘Ribbon’ two years later, aged just 14, while her debut album ‘Writing Of Blues And Yellows’ was released in 2016.
She has continued to gain fans year on year ever since and can now boast 1.5m monthly listeners on Spotify. No mean feat for someone so young.
Despite the growing fanbase, ‘Feeding Seahorses By Hand’ almost didn’t happen after a delay in its release led to Marten being crippled with self-doubt. She doubted herself and the quality of the songs. "I think when music takes longer than it should to come out, it's very easy to lose that momentum with it… it felt very stagnant like they weren’t good songs. It felt like nobody liked them. I just lost a bit of hope - but it's all back now, and I really like it!" she told The Line Of Best Fit.
The release of ‘Feeding Seahorses By Hand’ was accompanied by a stunning 17-minute feature film titled ‘Peach’, featuring four of the album’s tracks. It provides a deeper insight into what inspires Marten’s music and is a must watch for any music fan.
Recorded largely on four-track tape at producer Ethan John’s house in Bath, Marten dedicated every second of her time to the record over two intense but rewarding weeks. The result is an honest, imperfection-speckled album from an artist long unbothered by the idea of achieving a flawless gloss. The album’s highlights include Cartoon People, a fictional appraisal of Donald Trump from the point of view of his daughter, and the politician-mocking Betsy.
Having just completed a tour of the US supporting Snow Patrol, Marten heads to Dublin’s Sound House on June 27th. Tickets for her show are still available at €13.50.
Having been blown away when seeing Billie supporting Villagers in London last year, we implore you to go see her.
Billie Marten plays The Sound House on June 27th, 2019. Tickets €13.50.