I must confess up front that I’m a big fan of We Two Thieves. Mama Kin’s 2013-2016 partnership with Emily Lubitz, singing haunting folk harmonies, really did it for me at the 2016 Mullum Music Festival and my interest in Mama Kin Spender’s new release ‘Golden Magnetic’ was inspired by that loveliness.
The first thing that grabs me about ‘Golden Magnetic’ is the beat. ‘Water & Fire’ has a catchy rhythm upfront that has me tapping. Mama Kin’s striking voice and that beat drives into ‘Air Between Us’, by far my favourite track on the album. With its gospel influences and harmonies, it’s just my bag, and I spared the two bucks immediately on iTunes to sing along on demand.
The belly of the album with its few slower songs; a few pieces about summer rashes, plumbing difficulties, cheap whiskey and cigarettes; seemed more personal. They didn’t move me. ‘Deep Below’ though, snapped me out of my funk, reminding me perhaps of Florence & the Machine or Laura Marling, and the simplicity and harmonies of ‘Dotted Line’ got me right back in the mood. Spender’s guitar rhythms throughout the album deliver a gritty backdrop to the melodies and I liked that counterpoint in a number of the tracks.
Closing track, ‘Cold Rooftop’, reminisces of my We Two Thieves love, but I couldn’t help but think the music wouldn’t be out of place with a Nick Cave-esque voice booming over the top. Overall, ‘Golden Magnetic’ struck me as a little forced, but lovers of Mama Kin, and anyone with a fascination for folk harmonies with darker guitar and percussive overtones will be very satisfied.