Martha Ffion follows up her Scottish Album of the Year Award-nominated album ‘Sunday Best’ with ‘Nights to Forget’ – a record that finds the Glasgow-based Irish singer-songwriter (known to friends and family as Claire McKay) offering deeply personal observations on loss, letting go and looking towards a better future against a backdrop of glorious pop hooks.
The album opens with the line ‘What the world neews now is some deadbeats with guitars’ and this spiky, cutting attitude is prevalent throughout. This swaying, swirling piece of electronic dream pop also has an observation on how ‘nature can be cruel’. Recent single ‘After the Fact’ follows and this song combines catchy hooks with clever melodic sensibilities – plus some brass sounds – as Martha talks about keeping suspicions in the past and trying to get out of a rut: ‘I went to the movies alone to try and take my mind off you’. The synth-tinged ‘Want You To Know’ is also full of nostalgia with its reassuring tone that confirms Martha will be there to help anyone: ‘I have felt the weight that keeps dragging you down’.
‘Lost in the Crowd’ is an altogether more quieter affair with its subtle shifting bass and musings on how you can be ‘too kind of shy for that kind of pain’. ‘Rosaleen’ is another genteel love song with a country feel that reminded us of Courtney Marie Andrews as Martha discusses a much-missed inspiration: ‘You’re not from this town and you’re sure not from money’; ‘It’s a shame these days people never say what they mean’. This is followed up by the break-up anthem of ‘Going Out in Style’ with its defiant mantra of ‘If we’re going out, we’re going out in style’.
Sublime stabbed guitar hooks and lyrics about sunlight and mountaintops open ‘Universe’ – a song that blends dark Nick Cave-style elements with the ’60s-inspired heartbreak pop of Basia Bulat: ‘I don’t know who you are to make me feel this way. I see you in my dreams but you never look the same’. As the album approaches its final throes, ‘Walked Me Home’ brings in the beats, bass and some powerful storytelling (‘You were the only one that walked me home. Looked back and you were gone. I stepped into the great unknown’) while the closing ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ has a more waltzy feel as Martha pleads for one last chance at love: ‘Don’t you go leave me in this house all alone’.
‘Nights to Forget’ is a collection of songs that you’ll want to commit to memory.