Formed in 2013, Beatrix Players is an all-female trio comprised of Amanda Alvarez (cello), Jess Kennedy (piano and backing vocals) and Amy Birks (lead and backing vocals). Hailing from Spain, Australia and Straffordshire respectively, the three musicians all met in London where they are now based. Effortlessly blending their eclectic musical backgrounds, the trio distils the energy of indie rock music into a bewitching acoustic and coherent body of work. Following a first EP in 2014, Beatrix Players have released their début and self-produced album Magnified on 31 March 2017 last.
A distinct artistic upbringing drawing from classical music, punk and grunge, modern classical and film soundtrack music, choir singing, singer song-writing and contemporary folk music makes up the musical DNA of the band. The musicians quote the music of Thomas Newman, Michael Nyman, Yann Tiersen, Natalie Merchant, Joni Mitchell or Johann Sebastian Bach as major influences.
With Jess Kennedy and Amy Birks sharing the writing credits and cello providing melodic harmony, all songs are piano-driven with complex and emotionally-charged motifs ebbing and flowing on “Unpolished Pearls” or “Walk Away” for instance. Percussion is mainly absent or understated and many songs also feature additional double bass, violin or viola.
Songs like “Lady of the Lake”, “Roses” or the three-quarter time waltz “Mole Hill” are arranged as cinematic orchestral scores with an overture, a captivating theme on the piano building up into a crescendo with soaring vocals and multi-part string harmonies. The minimal line-up gives the music an intimate modern classical and chamber pop feel. Yet, there is always a sense that the same songs with a full orchestral treatment would easily reach the intensity of prog-rock-like anthems.
On the other hand, Beatrix Players are also a vocal trio and all songs would nearly stand alone in their stripped-down a-capella versions – “Unpolished Pearl” or “High Heel Shoes” are layered with impressive vocal parts.
Tapping into the classical literary world of the Brontë sisters among others and dealing with themes such as grief and heartbreak, childhood or difficult relationships, there’s a dark undercurrent to Magnified, always emphasised by the cello.
The visual element of the music has also been highlighted by two stunning stop-motion and animated videos for Lady of the Lake and “Mole Hill”, both capturing to perfection the dark classical and theatrical realm of Beatrix Players.