Billie Marten returns not only to music but to the acoustic-folk sound of her early discography with her new release Drop Cherries. The album is a departure from her more varied third album Flora Fauna, yet the singer-songwriter remains dedicated to natural imagery as she offers listeners an album which is relaxing, full of love, and perfect for spring.
Speaking to Why Now ahead of the release of the new record, Marten stated that “I think I’m evolving but also regressing. This album feels very much like the album I wanted to make when I got signed but was too ill-equipped and had to experience life to be able to do that; it’s almost as if all the pressure of that has feathered away and the dust has settled”. Out of any of her three previous albums, the sound of Drop Cherries is certainly the most similar to her 2016 debut Writing of Blues and Yellows, whose songs such as ‘La Lune’ and ‘Milk & Honey’ are still popular on Marten’s setlists. Drop Cherries’ ‘Acid Tooth’, with its Simon and Garfunkel-esque guitar riffs, and ‘Devil Swim’ wouldn’t feel out of place on the album which Marten released when she was just 17.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Marten is ‘regressing’ – her feeling of having shaken away the ‘pressure’ she had felt when making music is evident in Drop Cherries‘ lyrics. The name Drop Cherries is symbolic of an offering of love, and through her songwriting, Marten demonstrates the evolution of both her music and the love within her life. The album’s sustained focus on togetherness and relationships is evident in lyrics such as “he’s the song that makes me sing” in ‘I Bend To Him’.
There are also influences from Marten’s other records throughout her latest album. The second single to be released, ‘Nothing But Mine’, is probably musically closest to Flora Fauna, whilst ‘Arrows’ is as folky as ‘Cursive’ from her 2015 EP As Long As, and reminiscent of Laura Marling’s debut Alas I Cannot Swim. ‘Just Us’ compares sonically to ‘Blue Sea, Red Sea’ on Feeding Seahorses by Hand, yet instead of singing that “I don’t need you to love me”, Marten is now accepting of love and harmony in lyrics such as “I move, you move”. Lyrics such as these remind listeners that Marten is still developing as a musician, as she creates an album which celebrates love, growth, and the power of the acoustic guitar.
Love is clearly a major theme in Drop Cherries, something which was evident from the release of its lead single ‘This Is How We Move’. The single is a stand-out from the album, with each lyric feeling purposeful as Marten’s voice complements the rise and fall of the instruments behind it. The simple refrain of “this is how we move” speaks of the romantic relationship which seems to have inspired much of Marten’s lyric writing on the album, with the singer repeatedly mentioning moving or growing together. She sings that “I got what I was asking for”, as she appears to have moved to a place of happiness and stability in both her personal life and her songwriting.
Although Drop Cherries is simple, it’s not boring. Marten’s lyrics are contemplative, loving, and searching, whilst the largely acoustic sound combines elements of her previous releases into something which is quietly mature and confident in its simplicity. Marten finishes the album’s final song ‘Drop Cherries’ with the line “now I know what I’m here for”: she has seemingly reached a place of confidence in her own musical sound. The album is not breaking the box, but it is beautifully produced. The thirteen songs take listeners on a journey of unfolding love, conveyed through repeated natural imagery, as Marten proves that you don’t always need to reinvent yourself in order to make meaningful art.
You can stream Drop Cherries below: