Yes but, no but. Or to put it another way, I’m at sixes and sevens about Mollie Marriott’s new album.
Is it any good? Yes, it is. Do I like it? That’s a different question, but yes, although it’s not really my thang. What does it sound like? Er, let’s see how we go with that one, shall we?
Truth Is A Wolf is a very polished, highly professional piece of work. There’s no doubting the quality of the individual songs and their arrangements, which are very well put together.
The production is glossy, especially the
construction of a sound that occasionally contrasts Marriott’s clear-as-a-bell singing
with an undercurrent of fuzzed up guitar to good effect, notably on the top notch co-write with Paul Weller ‘King Of Hearts’, on which he also plays. Keyboards are layered cleverly in places, and
there’s even a cello to the fore on the subdued and sensitive ‘Love Your
|Mollie Marriott raids her jewellery box|
Pic by Rob Blackham
Mollie Marriott has an exquisite and flexible alto voice - if you’re expecting a female version of her old man Steve’s raucous holler then do not pass go, do not collect two hundred quid. She may have a bluesy, roots side, as her guest spot with Bad Touch on Tina Turner's 'Baby Get It On' suggests, but it's kept mostly under wraps, and while she displays a soulful vibe on some songs it’s of a very British variety. Technically though, she makes very good use of a great range and exceptional control. Credit too, for supplementing her on several songs with backing vocal arrangements that are simply luscious – ‘My Heaven Can Wait’ being a prime example with its dynamic crescendo, rising and falling in waves.
Myself, I’d like a bit more in the way of rough edges, but that’s a matter of personal taste. Each song is well constructed, and if at first blush they don’t seem to have the strongest hooks, after repeated listens I find myself getting up in the morning with the likes of ‘Control’, or the title track with it's tuneful mock wolf howls, swirling around my head.
Truth Is a Wolf strikes me as the kind of polished British pop-rock that had its origins in late period Beatles and the production ethos of George Martin, and continued through the post-prog phases of Peter Gabriel and, less adventurously, Genesis. Or maybe it takes its cue from the kind of mainstream rock that Buckingham-Nicks era Fleetwood Mac nailed so successfully. Either way, with a female lead vocal in the mix, there are also faint echoes here and there of Kate Bush, as on the opening of ‘Run With The Hounds’, and KT Tunstall and Nerina Pallot also spring to mind.
Marriott doesn’t quite stamp her personality on the album as a whole, despite the fact that she’s often telling some heartfelt and personal stories, such as the reflections on her relationship with her daughter on ‘Broken’. A stronger emotional connection between the lyrics and the music would really have made me sit up and take notice. But Truth Is A Wolf is still an impressive down payment on what Mollie Marriott could be capable of.
Truth Is A Wolf is released on 3 November.