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Ma Polaine's Great Decline - City of Love

  by Nicky Crewe

published: 13 / 7 / 2020

Ma Polaine's Great Decline - City of Love
Label: OMH Records
Format: CD


Fine third album from folk duo Ma Polaine's Great Decline who build on their reputation for writing distinctive music inspired by curious stories

Ma Polaine’s Great Decline are duo Beth Packer and Clinton Hough. This new album, 'City of Love' is their third and they are joined by Pete Flood (Oysterband, Bellowhead) on drums and Martin Elliott (Michael Nyman Band) on fretless bass. They tour as a duo and have a distinctive visual style that harks back to the '30s and '40s. There’s a timeless quality to Beth Packer’s voice too. She sings with a cutting clarity that reminds me of Josephine Foster or the McGarrigle sisters. I’ve seen them play live at my favourite small venue, Cafe #9 in Sheffield, a setting that suits them perfectly and I was sorry to miss them when lockdown resulted in cancellations there. This new album is written, recorded and produced by the duo in their own studio. They take their inspiration from curious stories and interesting characters. 'Paris is Burning' is based on the story shared in the film of the same name, of Dorian Corey, trans woman and drag artist who kept the mummified body of a man in her closet. 'Ghost Ship' addresses right wing politics and hate. 'We Won’t Let It Be' is a thank you to the courageous women who have spoken out in the #MeToo campaigns. Their style may have a retro quality, but their concerns are very contemporary. ' 'The Wreck, a song about a drunken fisherman, has a sinister and eerie quality thanks to the guitar arrangement. They tell us that new single 'Morphine' is about childbirth, but it does beg the question of who exactly is Ma Polaine and how advanced is her decline? The soulful 'Carnaby Street' is less about fashion and more about love. They met when Clinton Hough joined Beth Packer’s soul band. They soon discovered they wanted to create their own material. Their music has been described as roots and folk, and they were nominated for the British Blues Awards in 2015. There are elements of jazz, country and cabaret too. They have built a strong fan base with their touring over recent years and those fans won’t be disappointed with this latest collection of songs. Those who discover them through this album have something to look forward to when live music resumes too.

Track Listing:-
1 Volcano
2 Morphine
3 Paris Is Burning
4 Wayward Lovers
5 End of the Road
6 Ghost Ship
7 Utopia
8 We Won't Let It Be
9 Fighting to Sleep
10 The Wreck
11 Carnaby Street

Band Links:-

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