From Hampshire and now based in London, Marika Hackman is a young Folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Closely associated with Laura Marling with whom she has toured extensively and with Alt-J producer Charlie Andrew, the singer has already released four EPs and several self-directed videos in 2013 and 2014. Out since February 2015 last on Dirty Hit Records, We Slept At Last is Marika Hackman’s impressive début LP.
A self-taught singer and musician, Marika Hackman’s eerie voice and finger-picking guitar folk style dominate the album, echoing at times the music of Laura Veirs, Nick Drake or early Pink Floyd. But We Slept At Last also beautifully ranges from a quasi-Baroque sound on a song like “Monday Afternoon” to Post-Punk on “Undone Undress” or Grunge on the Nirvana-like “Open Wide”. There is also a duet with London-based singer songwriter Sivu on “Skin”.
“Before I sleep” in particular is directly inspired by and echoes Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”.
[…] The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
At the edge of your forest, I’m standing.
And the milky bed
Reminds me of the miles I have yet to tread […]
Marika Hackman – “Before I Sleep”
Further highlighting the dark, macabre and Gothic atmosphere permeating the entire album, the LP/CD is illustrated by a series of photographs by London-based American photographer Glen Erler.
Written under pressure over the space of two months and leading to bouts of sleeplessness and anxiety, most of the undulating melodies of the 12 original songs sound like they were dreamt or composed in a state of slumber.
With “Claude’s Girl”, I wrote myself a lullaby. It’s based on “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair” by Debussy which my brother used to play on the piano downstairs when I was younger. It’s about following this entity, this young girl who will take you off to sleep with her beautiful lullabies.
Marika Hackman – Song commentary on Spotify
Featuring a wide range of instruments (electric guitar, piano, keyboards, drums, accordion, autoharp, accordion amongst others – all played by Marika Hackman) as well as a Sarangi, a Dilruba and a string section, We Slept At Last is a lavish production. But it is in their stripped-down and acoustic versions that all the songs on the album really pack a strong emotional punch.