When you listen to the music of Mara Simpson, you can hear that this is an artist who lives for the craft. Her classically trained background in composition, piano and guitar has given her the skills to assemble a sound that has depth and emotion. Either performing solo or with her band (comprising of Poppy Ackroyd, Fiddes Smith, Jools Owen, Jamie Patterson) her songs have been wowing audiences around the globe including the UK, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and the US.
Her journey has seen her release the EP Lighthouse (2015) and album Our Good Sides (2016). These both showcase her beautiful vocals with captivating storytelling quality. As well as a soundtrack that blends folk, Americana and a little blues.
2019 sees Simpson return with a new collection of songs called 285 Days. It opens up with an instrumental moment that showcases that captivating depth that fans have come to expect from this songstress. Its various musical layers come together to create a beautifully textured sound.
This alluring arrangement of music continues into the following track “Don’t Know Much”. It flows so effortlessly even when the tempo delivers some moments of attitude. Throughout the album, it continues to impress how various instruments including guitar, piano, strings and more are used to create a soothing atmosphere. Simpson can also deliver a more stripped back sound which focuses on her vocals and acoustic guitar.
This artist thrives on the storytelling element of her songwriting. When it comes to creating new music, she lets them develop naturally. She describes the process as “Through the dark and the light it’s always been about stories. They pour in and percolate, the lines themselves beginning to move and dance and ignite. I never know when or how I’m going to write a song as if it’s wiser and more powerful than I am. While I’m scrabbling about figuring things out, the song flows ahead of me. In that way, it can never belong to me. And that’s where the connection takes place”.
‘285 Days’ is beautiful storytelling by Mara Simpson
“Rangi and Papa”. is the perfect example of her lyrical talents at work. It is a tale from Maori mythology about the relationship between Rangi (Sky Father) and Papa (Earth Mother) and how the world began, according to the people of Aotearoa. These details along with Simpson’s storytelling quality steals the listener’s attention.
Breathing life into these stories is the impressive vocal talents which Simpson possesses. She uses her beautiful and honest tone to create so much emotion. When the music is stripped back to let her voice and guitar take the spotlight, this becomes amplified as the track “Home” can testify.
With so many outstanding tracks to choose from, which stands out the most? It has to be “Baby You’re the One”. From the beginning, the warm and soothing vocals are captivating. When the piano and strings join in, they intertwine to create this honest and tender moment.
285 Days can be described as a labour of love as you can hear the genuine passion this songwriter has for the art. Mara Simpson should be proud of what she has created and deserves the praise it will receive.