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Album Review: Marked for Death by Emma Ruth Rundle

Emma Ruth Rundle is due to release her second solo album Marked for Death via Sargent House on 30th September. Off the back of her superb 2014 debut Some Heavy Ocean there’s quite the expectation behind this offering.

Marked for Death is a different beast. The production is more adventurous, the eight compositions on Marked for Death, helmed by engineer/co-producer Sonny DiPerri, emphasize dynamics and vocal melodies, variable tuning, and a dense layering and texturing of guitars. Couple that with the introspective and fearful lyrics penned by Rundle and it channels some of the stark and primal emotion behind her work with Marriages and Red Sparows.

There’s a strikingly raw and immediate impact from Marked for Death. Both the guitar work and lyrical content feel as if it’s straight from a tortured soul, you feel as if it couldn’t be anymore wrought with emotion. As a listener you have the choice of delving deep into the album and losing yourself in the typhoon of guitars and atmospherics or not giving it your full attention and for want of a better term not getting the album.

As such it’s not an album for the casual listener, the post rock / post folk atmospherics will be lost on a disengaged listener. Apart from ‘Protection’ and ‘Real Big Sky’ there isn’t a track with immediate impact on Marked for Death. Rather you’ll find it to be a gradual experience, invest time in the album and you’ll find yourself falling in love with Rundle’s fragile harmonies and atmospherics – ‘Medusa’ plays this role perfectly if you give it time.

There are moments like on ‘Protection’ where Rundle returns to a more familiar and thunderous wall of noise and volume, while it’s welcome it’s on tracks like ‘Hand of God’ that’s a fragile contemplation on living with shame that really chills to the bone. The stark beauty makes you stand up and take notice. Similarly, “Heaven” and “So, Come” grapple with themes of suffering and yearning for the past, transforming from furtive whispers into overdriven burners, and back again.

With a bit of attention Marked for Death shines as a beautifully tender and atmospheric album, in the right mood the listener will be struck by how stark and raw it is. Worth your effort.
AD Rating 7.5/10

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2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Alt Dialogue’s Top 100 Albums of 2016: Part 1, 100 – 51 – Alt Dialogue
  2. EP Review: The Time Between Us by Emma Ruth Rundle / Jaye Jayle – Alt Dialogue

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