Scottish singer Iona Marshall has entirely written, performed and self produced her new album Higher than The Leaves, released earlier this year. It almost defies categorisation, mixing folk and Celtic music with modern and experimental soundscapes to create a distinctive and unusual album.
The cover art intrigued me first of all, with its leaves and trees, suggesting a deep connection to the natural world and yet admiring it through a different perspective. That concept extends to the music on this album.
Iona’s previous album On The Rocks was a much more straightforward indie folk album, almost easy on the ear. On this album she has blown that sound apart, and created music feels like a secret soundtrack to some hypnotising dream.
The atmosphere is created from the opening fade in of Carronshore, a quiet moment that roots us in place. On Idea Fades haunting vocals create echoing soundscapes. My favourite song on here is Thief Taker, an introspective moment of arresting beauty.
Higher than the Leaves and Stirling adds beats to her sound, which contrasts well with the ethereal vocals to create an intriguing otherworldly feel.
Much of her work is inspired by traveling, so Le Rez with its use of French fits perfectly. On Knight she admits we’re losing our way in the world. Wanderers sometimes need help to make their way home. The final song Youla is a kind of ambient adventure into some other dimension, concluding with the line ‘we’ll hold out just fine’.
There’s something quietly bewitching about this album. Wander off into the woods and let this music lift you up.