English folk royalty meets Australian soul in this new collaboration between Marry Waterson and Emily Barker; an album of fly-on-the-wall observations of the contradictions and disconnections of modern life. No strangers to collaboration, Waterson and Barker discovered an immediate kinship when they started writing together. The intriguing combination of Waterson’s poetic lyrics and Barker’s eclectic musicality has been shaped in the studio by musical polymath Adem Ilhan.
Their first meeting was at a songwriting retreat run by Waterson’s One Little Indian labelmate, Kathryn Williams. Three songs from that retreat formed the kernel of what was to become a full album. “It came very easily. I think we were meant to meet.” says Waterson of that first encounter. Waterson’s wordplay takes centre-stage on the album. A much-admired lyricist herself, Barker was enamoured with Waterson’s writing: “Marry is such a wonderful poet. I adore the quirkiness of her lyrics and the rhyme-schemes and wordplay she adopts – there’s always hidden fun you can find, even in the darker songs.” Barker opened her toolbox of musical ideas, and the two songwriters began to weave the multi-layered musical tapestry that has brought the songs to life.
Perhaps inevitably, it was Waterson’s technological faux-pas that led to Adem becoming the album’s producer. Waterson had meant to send Barker a voicemail recording of Twister but but inadvertently sent a group message to the whole songwriting retreat; “Adem added some wonderful, weird cello parts and sent it back and this confirmed what Emily and I had already decided: that we’d love Adem to produce the album.”
With no self-imposed restrictions on musical direction, the studio sessions allowed the songs to take their own path, roaming from the sub 3-minute indie-pop of Perfect Needs via the sparse jazz-blues of Trick of the Light to the epic alt-folk of All Is Well. Little Hits of Dopamine took shape when Lukas introduced the trippy double bass groove that underpins the whole track, and the album is liberally smattered with Adem’s lavish string arrangements and ingenious electronica.
The resulting collection of songs pushes the boundaries of Barker and Waterson’s renowned roots styles, venturing into a diverse union of genres – contemporary folk, country and soul nestles comfortably alongside lilting indie and playful blues. A Window To Other Ways is the product of two revered musicians embarking upon an exciting, explorative journey, and a charmed collaboration.
Price: £15 (plus booking fee)