Billie Marten started writing songs around the age of nine, and when she was twelve, her parents started downloading clips of her singing online for her grandparents to see. Discovered by a record company, she released her first EP at the age of fifteen and has subsequently released an album, gone on tour, played at both festivals and the BBC. She is one of those people you’d put in the ‘annoyingly good at life’ category. The ones you are jealous of and who make you think to yourself ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t mind being a bit like them’. Annoyingly talented, that’s what she is. You are in equal measures annoyed and in awe, though.
Appearing on stage, there is something rather elegant and unassuming about her. Marten has a gentle stage presence and comes across as a really lovely person. You can tell she plays because she loves music and for no other reason. She’s quietly confident, not needing to disguise the fact that she’s still remarkably young. She introduces herself in a wispy voice before starting to play. Marten’s music is a sort of cross between folk and indie with some jazz. The music shows similar traits to Birdy, Laura Marling and Lucy Rose, whom she has toured with. Marika Hackman also comes to mind, as they both have an unaffected voice over melodic guitar lines. The thing about Marten’s music is the way it shows an emotional depth few artists have successfully achieved.
The set includes the song Lionhearted which is one of her best. It’s a song about wishing you were braver and more courageous than you actually are – a feeling most of us can relate to. The steady guitar plucking is joined by drums and the treble bass ending in a crescendo of sound. One of the band members switches between bass and guitar, with the piano sometimes joining in. What’s interesting is that through her basic approach she creates a spectrum of songs with completely different emotional and musical textures.
Billie’s voice is soft and angelic. Her upper range comes out in a caressing whisper, so relaxing to listen to. Her songs, although rather mellow, are somewhat thought–provoking, with a certain darkness coming across in most of the them. They observe life through a rather pessimistic lens, several of them speaking about a feeling of drowning, with her metaphors evoking the feelings of suffocation. When listening to her it is easy to forget that she is only seventeen, because she comes across as someone who’s knowledgeable and has lived far beyond her years. In the world of popular music she comes across like an oasis in the desert, creating simple unaffected music. She has a lot more to offer and it would be a joy to see her come to Glasgow again.
Article by: Lamorna Brown