Martha Paton - Pulling Strings

by Srinandini Mukherjee

One of the first things that drew me to Martha Paton when I watched her cover ABBA’s SOS on YouTube was her minimalist approach, as well as her powerful yet low voice. Thankfully, these qualities shine through on her five-track EP Pulling Threads just as strongly, making it worth a listen.

Worrier gives a strong start to the album; the mellow, acoustic track is thoroughly pleasing to the ear, and the line, “You can’t read me / ‘Cause I’m no easy thing to understand” from the chorus sticks around long after you listen to the song because of the catchy tune. The unexpected upbeat clapping near the end of the song only contributes to the feel-good energy of the track, and leaves the listener feeling incredibly cheerful despite the title. Silver Tongue, an equally catchy track, keeps up the upbeat mood, and stands out due to its use of the saxophone in the chorus. However, while the use of the saxophone in the chorus is appreciated, it’s a shame it wasn’t used more: the prompt appearance of the instrument in every chorus, and equally prompt disappearance at the beginning of the verses become slightly too predictable by the end of the track.

Washing Machine, a slightly more intense track begins with slightly odd, Phoebe Buffay-like lyrics such as,

“I didn’t see them coming And I still can’t see them now But they rummage through my secrets Just like rats with superpowers”

Despite the memorable intro to the song, and Paton’s voice getting stronger in comparison to the earlier tracks in the bridge and final chorus, the lyrics of Washing Machine are much more incoherent compared to the rest of the EP. Between her verses about being under surveillance, and the chorus about a “brain-washing machine”, I was unsure what Paton wanted to sing about here, and this song thus remains one of the more forgettable ones in the EP for me.

I found the penultimate track, If I Forget Your Name, one of Paton’s most powerful songs. The piano ballad has an Adele-like vibe to it, and Paton’s voice stands out more than on any other track in the EP. The tune is entrancing, and the lyrics, which are about being left by presumably a love interest, are well-written, and lines such as, “How dare you do that to the parts you left / Just drowning in the tears we bled”, once again, much like Adele, induce empathy.

The shortest track on Pulling Strings, Be Good ends the EP on a slightly disappointing note. This track was perhaps meant to create an optimistic energy, much like Worrior. However, the country-music tune, the whistling in the intro, and the chirpy chorus with the line “When you’re good to life / Life’s good to you” makes the song sound like something out of a cheesy advert.

While I might criticise Paton’s latest EP for lacking some variety in terms of style and tune, she evidently plays to her strengths over the five tracks and produces a very strong effort, which makes the listener want more. Hopefully her talent won’t be buried under the giants of the mainstream pop music industry, and we’ll have a full-length album to look forward to soon!