Amelia’s Magazine | Album review of The Hangman Tree and interview with Laura J Martin

Laura J Martin by Alice Nyong
Laura J Martin by Alice Nyong.

Laura J Martin sets out her wares in the album title track and single The Hangman Tree, the sweetest of vocals twirling around languid drums, hand claps and a noodling kazoo. The beat builds to a flute embroidered finale which leads into the stunning Fire Horse, where upon Laura J Martin‘s favourite wind instrument takes precedence with unusual and beautiful results. Other standouts on the 16 track album include the bouncy Jesse, the frantic spitfire interludes to the lilting Spy and campfire crackling meets rap of Kissabye Goodnight. You read our recent review of her live gig at the Lexington, and now it’s time to catch up with Liverpudlian musician Laura J Martin as she gears up to release her much anticipated debut album. The Hangman Tree is a gorgeous medley of folk, oriental and jazz influences that needs to be on your stereo soon.

Laura J Martin by Justyna Sowa.

You are a multi-talented musician with a range of musical instruments at your disposal. How many do you play?
My main instruments are flute and piano, but I dabble with the mandolin and other pipes too. 
Laura J Martin docks
You have said that the flute is your main instrument of choice – has it ever been hard to accommodate a wind instrument and voice in your songs: how do you prioritise what works best?
Aha! Well the loop station was brought on board because of this reason. I have recently incorporated piano regularly into my live shows and recordings as it does more naturally support the vocal, but I do love layering up the flute especially when I go Mellotron / Strawberry Fields style.

What has inspired the lyrics to the tunes on your debut album The Hangman Tree?
Tributes to good people I know and have known, pets, stories relating to my gypsy heritage and flawed relationships.
You grew up in Liverpool: how did this urban environment produce someone so bohemian? Did your parents encourage your music and if so in what way?
Well I grew up in one of the dullest suburbs of Liverpool so we were forced to make our own entertainment. My parents have always been pretty supportive. They followed the Catholic tradition of having more than 2.4 kids so they probably lost focus with me maybe! In all seriousness they have been very encouraging, my Dad is sometimes my personal caddie too. Music has always been important to the Martin family. My Grandad was a pianist so he planted the seed.
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The tracks on your new album bear more than the usual folk influences… for instance Fire Horse sounds vaguely Oriental. Where do these inputs come from?
Kung Fu and Samurai films mainly and I do have a soft spot for the likes of (Argentine composer) Lalo Schifrin. The flute is a particularly oriental sounding instrument. If you took the same pitches and played them on another instrument such as, erm, the didgeridoo, well it might sound less eastern, not that I’m complaining about the link!
Laura J Martin The Hangman Tree by Gareth A Hopkins
Laura J Martin by Gareth A Hopkins.

The Hangman Tree has been some time coming: we’ve been championing you for over 2 years on Amelia’s Magazine. Has it been hard to get the album out and what have the biggest frustrations and joys of the process been?
Yes, tell me about it!! The joys of the process are creating the songs and the satisfaction of completing them and being able to perform them live. It can be frustrating having to wait that length of time before releasing an album, but if you leave songs to settle you are able to pick out the strongest ones and ruthlessly erase the ones that don’t cut the mustard.
How did you hook up with record label Static Caravan?
Through Marc Riley, I have a lot to thank him for. Well saying that I met Marc through Euros Childs and Norman when touring with Jonny. Those fine chaps saved my life!
Where can our readers see you perform live in 2012?
Well some dates are coming together in the UK. Please see my website for details: I have also been working with Richard James so there should be some dates on the board for that soon too.
Laura J Martin shot
Any top tips for other musical acts to look out for this year?
I’ve been digging out some old stuff to be honest. Geoff from Static Caravan gave me a Johnny Harris LP for christmas and it’s a beast! New stuff? I think Y Niwl are terrific, Serafina Steer, Clinic have just released a new album which I am looking forward to listening to.

The Hangman Tree by Laura J Martin is out on Static Caravan on 23rd January 2012. See also our recent review of her performance at the Lexington here.

Categories ,album, ,Alice Nyong, ,clinic, ,Euros Childs, ,Fire Horse, ,Flute, ,folk, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,interview, ,Jesse, ,Johnny Harris, ,Justyna Sowa, ,Kissabye Goodnight, ,Laura J Martin, ,Lexington, ,Marc Riley, ,Mellotron, ,Oriental, ,review, ,Serafina Steer, ,Spy, ,Strawberry Fields, ,The Hangman Tree, ,Y Niwl

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