Highlights: The Man Behind The Rhododendron, Benjamin Bowmaneer, Forget-me-not, Honey In The Rock
Brighton’s Mary Hampton is an idiosyncratic singer-songwriter whose take on folk music is edgy, mysterious and even somewhat unsettling . Folly, her second LP, sounds like a collection of pretty but disturbing lullabies steeped into traditional English ballads.
Mary’s first album proper, My Mother’s Children, was an unlikely and unjustly overlooked classic, and Folly seems a logical continuation of that sound. It’s been 3 years, and it’s only 8 songs – and still, it doesn’t sound like laziness. More like thought and craft. And the more I listen to Folly, the more thought and craft there is to it. Behind her slightly childish, high-pitched vocals, haunted moods and haunted piano chords, there are amazingly charismatic performances of amazingly eerie and beautiful songs. When you’re dealing with this kind of songwriting, it’s mostly about weird hooks than catchy melodies, but I could swear the opening song, “The Man Behind Rhododendron”, has a truly lovely tune I can imagine one singing along to. It gradually gets more odd from there, though.
The atmosphere is that of darkness – but darkness of a gorgeous, non-scary, otherworldly sort. In fact, Folly would have been almost unbearably otherworldly – were it not for something whimsical about Mary’s songs. Best suited for quiet, stately, late-night listens in headphones, Folly is for those who like their folk music with a twist.