Marina Allen : Eight Pointed Star

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Marina Allen Eight Pointed Star review

It can be rewarding to follow along with a musician as they grow. I’ve been a fan of American singer/songwriter Marina Allen ever since her debut album, 2021’s Candlepower. On Eight Pointed Star Allen continues to mature as a composer and a musician willing to stretch herself a bit while still retaining that nugget of original inspiration and style. This remarkable third album brings some more upbeat, less introspective material that perhaps shows a move towards the external and not just the internal. Though she continues to channel the sound of the Laurel Canyon crowd of the 1960s and ’70s, Allen is also looking to other places, allowing different sounds to influence what she’s producing.

Starting off with a softer tone, Allen gets that twilight cowboy sound down flat. We can see the fading pinks and reds, that stretch of purple turning into deep blue. While a more dramatic artist might have started off with a bang, that isn’t her style. Allen’s confident enough in her aesthetic to take things easy. That doesn’t mean that it’s boring or dull; there is emotion and strength in her vocals that echo of sorrow, of the end a past relationship. Great beauty comes from honesty, from raw emotional force, and Allen delivers right out of the gate.

There is balance and careful consideration here. Allen is a superb singer/songwriter; she knows when to add instrumentals or when to keep the arrangement lighter. Her country-folk sound is crafted, never spilling out into melodic clichés or overused musical motifs. “Red Cloud” picks up the pace a little but never lets loose, while “Swinging Doors” breaks up the quiet, offering something to dance to. As Joni Mitchell mixed in songs like “California” and “Carey” within more tender tracks on Blue, Allen showcases a similar versatility. An upbeat composition that stretches her sound to something closer to rock—similar to the work of Canadian singer Sarah Harmer—it’s louder without being abrasive or disruptive. It’s catchy in a way that will have you playing it on repeat.

“Bad Eye Opal” and “Easy” return to that guitar-strumming style, bringing back a peaceful, drifting sound. The latter is more reflective and introspective. It’s easy to entertain an audience with a fast-paced tune, but to mesmerize listeners with slow-and-steady is a high accomplishment. Showcasing subtle reverb, whispery vocals, and stable percussion, Allen achieves a lullaby-like track that won’t put you to sleep but rather offers something more hypnotic. Switching it up once more, “Love Comes Back” is another great song that has a jovial tone. These harder, more urgent songs prove that Allen is moving forward, away from the quiet bedroom sound that dominated her earlier releases, Candlepower and Centrifics.

“Landlocked” brings out a country sound akin to Emmylou Harris, particularly through its touches of pedal steel. And as with her other songs, Allen doesn’t simply pay homage, she creates her own sound that serves her musical needs and the album’s direction. The out-on-the-range theme is never overstated; it’s simply a beautiful soundscape of lush purples, starry skies, and low-burning campfires. Eight Pointed Star is an album that’s lovingly crafted and delicately delivered. It is Allen’s fullest-sounded project. Though her previous efforts exhibited raw talent and a love for music, this latest one reveals a knowledge and technique that she’s developed to showcase that ardent love and devotion for her artform. The album goes by quickly—not because it’s short but because you’re simply swept up in the joy, the sorrow, the beautiful story that Marina Allen is sharing.

Label: Fire

Year: 2024

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Marina Allen Eight Pointed Star review

Marina Allen : Eight Pointed Star

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