Marte Eberson once played in a band – its name shall not be spoken – which, after she left it, released a couple of EPs called ‘The Bare Romantic’. Whoever he is, he hasn’t been seen or heard from since last Wednesday.
Marte is so remarkably candid in her notes to her latest song, ‘Free’, about what it means and why she wrote it that she might be the Stark Bollock Naked Romantic.
I’ve come across few singer songwriters who are as open with their personal situation as Marte is. It’s as if she’s on a mission to find redemption from nothing in particular. Every song released so far from her album has had a little story attached to it and the album itself will probably bring everything together; tying up loose ends, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Le dénouement, comme on dit au rive gauche.
Ok, I know there are artists like Apple who do this for fun, baring their soul across every track. But not from within a funky 1970s disco vibe, like here.
What ‘Free’ hangs on is that Marte is (quote) “a hopeless romantic who loves to take chances. I want to jump into it, feel the ups and downs – then let it burst or bear. ‘Take this ride, live or die’.”
Sounds uncomfortably like ‘Final Destination’ to me.
She goes on, “Either love survives or it doesn’t. I can’t sit on the fence and wait for life to happen, but the older I get, the harder it is to get away from commitments. It´s no longer just a game of chance and a romantic idea: our actions have greater consequences. It becomes scarier to detach/end a relationship – even if you don’t get along well. This song is about feeling free from those consequences. Just do exactly what you want – when you want to!”
Everybody’s free, to feel good, as Rozalla instructed us. And you’re free to do what you want to do as Ultra Naté confirmed.
It’s all here but in Marte’s case it’s like she’s writing a proposal to post on Tinder. Take me as you find me. I’m here to be won or lost, as are you to me. Are you up for the challenge?
If I may be permitted a slight indulgence, I mentioned in previous reviews of Marte Eberson singles that sometimes perhaps not all is what it seems. That there might be a hidden subtext. Something more personal still than the sleeve notes above reveal.
Take these lines for example, which pitch up in the middle of the song within the bridge:
“Oh, my man was in pain/Hiding every thoughts of shame I was easily blamed/A victim of a gaslight game”.
They are out of sync with the generic, carpe diem, live-and-love-for-the moment-and-sod-the-consequences tenet of the song while her “lion” is decidedly not one by the end of the song.
Just hinting at gaslighting alone suggests that there is a deeper, more sinister issue at heart here. Or is it just my imagination?
Musically, there’s plenty to comment on too. What she does in her song writing isn’t easy. She deals with tricky subjects in a flirty, sometimes frivolous, and here dancy, manner. I think it was a couple of years ago now, around the time that she attended a song writing camp in Los Angeles, that she decided to seek out simpler musical forms with fewer chords and key changes, allied to a funky, disco feel.
You wouldn’t think that would automatically work with songs like these, where the musical optimism personified by bouncy bass and drums challenges the lyrical pessimism but she’s found a way of making it happen and in doing so is mapping out a direction that is pretty well unique.
The longer this trickle release has gone on (and she’s made public most of the album tracks now I guess) the more fascinating the unravelling of her story has become. It’s like a diary coming to life, a capsule of the reality of romantic life amongst the 30-somethings in modern day Oslo. The Jane Eyre of 2023, to a disco beat.
She’s an inveterate story teller and even a social influencer although it’s unlikely she’d actually aspire to that title. And all will be revealed when the album is released and you can listen to those tales unwind, track by track.
For the time being let’s hope she finds her next little lion man. And that he can stay the course.
‘Free’ is released on 23rd June on the Grappa label.
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Photo: Oslo Prouctions.
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