An artist with an approach that descends from the school Carole King and Laura Nyro, Marina Allen is not the average singer/songwriter. With an earthy tone, she concerns herself with what makes us grow while revealing her own struggles and triumphs. Her sophomore album Centrifics is a more mature album than her debut, Candlepower, of which she said in a statement, “I was fed up with hiding myself and a fierceness started to enter the songs, which I leaned into.” Her fire is subtle, but still burns hot.
“Celadon” opens with a punchy beat and shifts into vocal tricks and vibrating strings, yet it still captures the listener as it changes again to a slower beat. The piano and her voice work together wonderfully, a true tag-team that moves the song without losing momentum. Though there is “dust and doubt,” as she sings, it never stumbles or falters.
Allen is a versatile artist, balancing the slow (“Getting Better”) and the upbeat (“Foul Weather Jacket Drawing”) while keeping a consistent style and vibe. Her sort of falsetto, higher notes are a unique aspect that gives a depth and a range to her songs. The album as a whole shifts from a more western-styled guitar fit for a Cormac McCarthy novel to ethereal chimes that nod to jazz-fusion—think Return to Forever and Chick Corea. In her western on-the-trail style, “Smoke Bush” even widens sonically and turns darker, with heavy reverb and distortion halfway through, telling a story through sound as well as lyrics.
Though one or two songs are a bit too soft or leave less of an impression, Centrifics by and large is an engaging listen. Since her last release, she has expanded her approach, with a clear influence from her surroundings, on nature and landscape as well as soundscapes from past artists. “I am still me, I am still me,” she sings in the last track “Gardiner’s Island,” giving herself permission to be herself as well as to reveal to her audience who that really is.
Born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Konstantin Nicholas Rega currently attends East Anglia's famous MA in Creative Writing with the Ink, Sweat and Tears Scholarship. He is a professional musician, the former host/producer of Jazz Jams on CSRfm 97.4, and twice a Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets finalist. He is the Fiction Editor for Crack the Spine and a contributor to The Black Lion Journal. He also blogs.