Martha Tilston,
Real: Live at the Union Chapel
(independent, 2010)

Martha Tilston is an English folk singer-songwriter who may not have an instantly recognizable name, even though her father Steve Tilston is a well-known singer songwriter and her stepmother is Irish singer Maggie Boyle. One of her first musical breaks came when she toured with Damien Rice in 2003. This is one of those times when growing up in a musical family results in good music.

Real: Live at the Union Chapel was recorded in an old church in London and features 10 of Martha's original songs. Influenced by British folk music icons like Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Ralph McTell, Martha's songs range from traditional to contemporary. The lyrics range from several mystical ones about nature and forests to one about materialism and our corporate culture.

The CD opens with one of its best songs, "Red," which has a beautiful melody, thoughtful lyrics and is one of the more traditional-sounding songs. "Duvet" is one of the more contemporary-sounding, nature-themed songs. "Winter Flowers" is a song with a beautiful melody that you could almost imagine being sung by the late Sandy Denny. "Artificial" is a fun look at working in an office and thinking about how to escape. "Corporations" is an insightful look at our obsession with materialism.

Martha plays guitar and piano is backed up by her band, The Woods, who do a great job with a nice variety of instruments ranging from cello, violin, bouzouki, mandolin, bass and percussion. She also is a talented painter and has done the artwork on all of her CDs.

I wasn't familiar with Martha Tilston before I listened to this CD, but after a few listens, I wanted to check out more of her music. Combining a nice voice and good songwriting make this a very enjoyable recording.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Dave Townsend

7 May 2011

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