Martina Topley-Bird’s latest album, Some Place Simple, features stripped-down songs from her previous two albums in addition to four new tracks to enjoy. These versions are either slow and jazzy or fast and rhythmic. They showcase her vocal talent with minimal instrumental accompaniment.
The instruments on the album are exotic sounding, such as a xylophone, mandolin, and harpsichord, while drums like the tabla are used to create tribal rhythmic pulses and brush sticks are used for a light, jazzy rhythm. Some Place Simple has an eclectic use of melody and voice, like weaving acapella vocals which create a disorientated effect. Martina takes her time with the lyrics and performs more laid back versions of her songs. She sings lengthy notes and uses breathy vocals. There is lots of white space for her to work with and fill in the melodic gaps as she feels the lyrics.
“Sandpaper Kisses” is a minimal and stripped-down version of the original song. Slow and sultry, it’s just Martina and a guitar with heavy chorus and vibrato. “All Day” is an upbeat song with handclaps, an infectious snare drum, and repeating hooks. “Snowman” has a really cool keyboard part and paints a spooky atmosphere of longing that goes with the lyrics.
Martina’s latest stripped-down release gives a new perspective on her previous studio tracks along with the addition of new ones. There is a certain artistry in bearing it all down to your soul and she does just that.