‘I am My Own Rainbow’ doesn’t get off to a good start. To put it nicely, the first song – ‘Brothers and Sisters’ – is uninspiring. Boring, even. It sounds haphazard, like something that was written specifically to open the album. And that’s a shame because, while ‘Brothers and Sisters’ is the psychedelic folk equivalent of waiting in the dentist’s office on a Monday morning, on the whole ‘I am My Own Rainbow’ is an excellent album, even for those of you whose only knowledge of the genre is listening to Syd Matters’ ‘Obstacles’ over and over again.
The second song, ‘Black Holes’, is an energetic, rocky number that picks things up a little, while still retaining the established tone of the album. Likewise, ‘14th Century Man’ still manages to carry that drive. On the other hand, while ‘Wandering Song’ sounds a little pedestrian in terms of rhythm, it retains a very beautiful soundscape – a theme that is emphasised and expanded upon in songs like ‘Northstar,’ ‘Fields,’ and ‘Songbird.’
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What this suggests (and as any long term Marjorie Fair fan will probably tell you) is that Evan Slamka is a great soundsmith. Soundsmith is the appropriate term here and not songwriter because these don’t feel like traditional songs. Or, at least, they don’t feel like traditional folk songs. Traditional folk songs tell stories; these use words to set a scene. It’s a way of making music that is much more in line with Dance or Shoegaze music, and while that might seem to be at odds with Marjorie Fair’s folksy beginnings, ultimately it adds another layer of complexity to the music.
And Marjorie Fair needs that complexity – not because it’s simple – but rather because, while Evan Stamka is an excellent soundsmith, he’s not a particularly strong singer. It’s not that he can’t sing, but rather that his vocals are rather buried amongst the soundscape – again, like Shoegaze. The vocals aren’t front and centre, but they serve their use, and they serve their role very well. And ultimately that’s the best way of putting it: ‘I am My Own Rainbow’ is an excellent synthesis between Folk and Shoegaze, and it deserves at least a few spins.
‘I Am My Own Rainbow’ is scheduled for release March 25, 2016 on Psychic Bully.
This Marjorie Fair article was written by Ian Bailey, a GIGsoup contributor