"Some Simple Place" by Martina Topley-Bird

Martina Topley-Bird
Some Place Simple

Honest Jon's Records
2010

Review

It's a shame that most people I know only know Martina Topley-Bird from her classic appearances on many of Tricky's best songs and albums because I think that she stands out well enough on our own. On her latest album, "Some Simple Place", she sounds confident in herself and gives a fantastic and consistent vocal performance over tracks that have more to do with R&B/Soul than they do with Electronic music.

"Some Simple Place" might refer to Martina's state of mind, but I think it has more to do with her music. On this album, she takes huge strides away from the type of tracks that she's known for. I think her last album, "Anything" was a big step towards the direction set forth here. To see what I mean you can contrast the versions of the songs "Sandpaper Kisses" and "Too Tough To Die" that are both "Some Simple Place" and on "Anything". While the versions of these songs on "Anything" (which were, incidentally my favorite songs on that album) carried a very heavy Trip-Hop influence in the vein of early Massive Attack or Tricky, the versions here are more like the kind of R&B songs that influenced early Rock music. "Too Tuff To Die" in particular is really strengthened by this change. In my mind, I can see Martina singing this song on stage in front of a big-band (albeit one with Tom Morello playing his over-distorted Electric Guitar). The treatment "Sandpaper Kisses" gets here reminds of the James Bond song that Sade might do.

"Baby Blue" and "Phoenix" demonstrate the relative simplicity of the music.

The emphasis here seems to be on Martina's voice. I mean, "Pheonix" may as well be an a capella song. In fact, there are a few times here where the songs are much too simple, too short, and too a capella - specifically, "Da Da Da", "All Day", and "Ilyah". But these are exceptions.

I put this album in the Soul music category deliberately though it could very well have been put into the Rock category as well. Truth be told, if we had a "Singer/Songwriter" category I might put it there. What you have here are songs that take a minimalist approach in order to allow the singer's voice to be highlighted with little to no electronic music elements whsomeplaceatsoever. This may throw off some fans of Martina's earlier work, but it is apsolutely the right choice for her; this album is more Adela or Corinne Bailey Rae than it is Tricky or Massive Attack...just to let you know what you are getting into here. If you don't believe me, just listen to "Intro".

4.071 out of 5

Track Ratings

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1. Baby Blue (02:47) 5
2. Phoenix (02:45) 5
3. Lying (03:49) 4
4. Da Da Da (01:20) 3
5. Orchids (02:59) 4
6. Poison (02:22) 4
7. Intro (01:30) 5
8. Snowman (02:39) 4
9. Sandpaper Kisses (03:36) 5
10. All Day (02:30) 3
11. Ilyah (03:05) 3
12. Valentine (03:34) 3
13. Too Tuff To Die (01:54) 5
14. Kiss Kiss Kiss (01:00) 4
15. Harpsichord Kiss (00:58)