Sunday, 2 August 2015

MA POLAINE'S GREAT DECLINE

CD Review

Got Me Out Of Hell

Be warned, do not listen to this album in the dark, on your own or if you are of a nervous disposition. 

Beth Packer
However, if you like your music decadent, indulgent, on the wrong side of the edge of darkness, a little bit sinister and ever so slightly wanton then light a candle, put on your headphones and be prepared to be drawn into the world of Ma Polaine's Great Decline.
Beth Packer has an incredibly distinctive voice. Like the legendary Siren, it is both scary and alluring. She sounds like someone who should be on a candlelit stage in Montmartre at the height of Le Chat Noir era; she sounds like she should be in a smoky speakeasy; she sounds like she should be in a juke joint or in a New Orleans brothel providing a different kind of entertainment from the working girls. To put it simply her singing and vocal style is fantastic and every time she opens her mouth a complete story unfolds from her lips.
The opening track, Blow Your Horn, comes at you like a train from the distance. The power of her voice seems limitless and she has this quality which makes you feel you are listening to something you shouldn't be. Her voice is so evocative it's almost too much to take in. Jon Gillies on sax makes his presence felt too.
This is followed by what starts like the soundtrack to Edward Scissorhands where Packer's voice has a depth which brings real character to what could easily be a eulogy to a lost friend or lover. Again Gillies, on piano this time, adds a sinister rhythm.
Clinton Hough brings in the next track, Small Town, with a gentle guitar intro and Packer shows her gentler and slightly vulnerable side in what is a lovely ballad which gives her a chance to express the range of emotion she can bring with her singing.
Salma Hayek in Dusk 'til Dawn
Packer gets her accordion fired up for the title track and her voice takes on the full sinister cloak once again. It's reminiscent of the music to which Salma Hayek does her erotic snake dance in the Titty Twister from Tarantino's Dusk 'til Dawn only slightly edgier especially with Hough's guitar.
You can almost feel the motion of the galleon as you hear the timbers creaking and the foghorn warning lungs of the accordion. Dark Rum By Moonlight is wonderfully indulgent, you almost feel like running off to sea as you listen to the jumping throbbing sound of Chris Clavo on double bass.
This is a crazy tune with a definite hint of madness but which just about keeps you this side of sanity.
In complete contrast, up next is a gentle, soulful ballad No Words We Need and once again Packer shows the versatility and range of her voice which has such passion.
The album
Hough brings in The Dregs with a more bluesy-rock sound with Packer singing her warning in a staccato manner that each time it stops abruptly it makes you sit up and take notice. Hough and Clavo are let off the leash this time to give the track some real punch.
The band goes for the real torch blues song with Numb. You really get pulled into Packer's tale of pain, such is the emotion she invests in her singing. You could easily be listening to Billie Holiday, Nina Simone or Mahalia Jackson on a crackling radio, and with what is a really simple song she lays out a whole world of emotion, loss and pain.
However, if you thought you were going out on a downer then forget it, because the circus comes roaring in with The Devil's Frying Pan. The throbbing gypsy-style beat evokes images of swirling skirts, camp fires, caravans in half shadow and men being caught in the glow of Packer's voice, mesmerised and enthralled by the power of her singing.
Got Me Out of Hell is a wonderfully indulgent album powered by Packer's incredible voice. It's the sort of album you don't want your mother or your spouse catching you listening to and the sort of album you try to resist but you know you will keep coming back to time and time again once she has cast her spell on you.

The album is available through the band's website and the usual download sites.