English alt-folk singer/songwriter Laura J. Martin drew comparisons with the likes of Ralfe Band, Beth Jeans Houghton, and Sweet Billy Pilgrim, but had her own unique sound, which gradually drifted toward Americana. Born and brought up in Maghull, Merseyside, just north of Liverpool, as a child Martin enjoyed listening to her grandfather play the piano. She took up the flute at school, eventually becoming an accomplished flautist, and learned to play piano and mandolin. Inspired by poetry and such disparate artists as David Bowie, Lalo Schifrin, and Serge Gainsbourg, she began to write her own songs and, with the aid of a loop pedal and an Akai MPC, became a one-woman band when she played live, looping all the instruments and her own vocals to create dizzying sound textures. Her first two albums, 2012's The Hangman Tree and 2013's Dazzle Days, were released through Static Caravan. They primarily had a psychedelic folk sound, with Martin's high, breathy delivery faintly recalling Kate Bush. She worked extensively as a session musician, and also recorded a collaborative album with Gorky's Zygotic Mynci frontman Euros Childs under the name Short & Curlies, entitled At the Dance.
Inspired by her friend Kidkanevil, she applied for and was accepted to the 2014 Tokyo Red Bull Music Academy; her residency there inspired her to take more risks and put more "dirt" into her music. Ennui and disillusionment at many of Liverpool's vibrant, eclectic alternative venues being replaced by faceless apartment blocks fueled her third album, On the Never Never, which was released by Shape Records in February 2016. Recorded in Nashville in just three days at the home studio of producer extraordinaire Mark Nevers, the album had more of an Americana sound and saw Martin backed by a stellar cast of '90s alt-country and indie rock legends including Matt Swanson and Tony Crow of Lambchop, Silver Jews' Brian Kotzur, and the Jesus Lizard's Duane Denison. ~ John D. Buchanan