In music, as in life, there are late starters, slow burners and savvy tortoises…and then there is Marina Florance.
The singer-songwriter emerged from outta Norwich where she had been in hiding for the longest time, apparently writing grown-up songs deeply ingrained with experience and mature observation.
Those songs now appear on That and the Other, an album characterized by eminently approachable folk-pop melodies that occupy the vacant plots between Tom Paxton’s gregarious simplicity and instinctive English introspection. The result is a collection of songs that offer personal perspectives on universal feelings.
A good example of this is Wedding Day Waltz which could be sung anywhere by anyone who’s about to get hitched, but could equally be interpreted as whimsical dream-wish or a faded memory. It’s this sort of ambiguity, that may be conscious or unconscious, that helps a song to travel far beyond its own circle.
Tunes like A Better Song, I’ll Remember You and Carried Away have strong narrative strands and a thoughtful storyteller’s clarity and cadences. It reminded me strongly of the work of Janis Ian, who is still productively involved in the telling of life’s bittersweet tales.
Bring Me That Thing Called Love is something of a showstopper and, if it sounds a little derivative of something the Willie Nelson or Don McLean might have sung, then that can only be a good thing. It underscores the offer that Florance is making to singers seeking good songs, and her generosity shouldn’t be ignored.
Elsewhere, A Room of Your Own is a sincere, soulful ballad in a wonderfully respectful and nicely authentic arrangement. It’s a little bit of Memphis by way of the Norfolk Broads, and as unlikely as that sounds, it really works charmingly well.