Cardiff’s Buffalo Bar seems to be bringing the live music aspect of their assorted venue to its forefront, boasting a diversity in styles to suit everyone. Hence the billing of Billie Marten, with the graceful and subdued guitar playing seventeen year old being a million miles away from the classic Bump and Grind on a Monday night at Buffalo.
Yet, the upstairs room of Buffalo, whilst intimate (and not to mention, sweltering), can’t necessarily provide the perfect place for both. It’s not really suited for Billie, at the very least, whose sound is wholly defined by the quietness in her voice. It’s wistful, melancholy and exceptionally delicate. You really need to be able to hear a pin drop in order to fully appreciate it. But the venue couldn’t quite deliver in the department of zero background noise, culminating in the occasional disgruntled head turn, tut and shush.
Although, it begs the question as to whether any venue can provide the perfect stage for such a soft and understated performance. For instance, the exquisitely angelic voice which Billie Marten possesses is not better demonstrated than in ‘Bird’, a highly emotional piano ballad that, devastatingly, falls a little flat when sung live. It fails to convey the same kind of emotive impact that the record version does so well. Yet, the notion that her performance can be better is indisputable if only she were to inject a stronger sense of poise, self-assurance and maturity into it. Besides, tracks such as the more upbeat ‘Green’, which she jokingly prefaces with “This is the loudest I’m going to get” as well as ‘Emily’, a much stronger, Laura Marling-esque composition, already hint towards that kind of progression and are the inevitable stand out moments of the set.
Nevertheless, what Billie Marten may perhaps lack in pure volume and deliverance, she surely makes up for in her beautifully introspective lyricism.
Cardiff marked the penultimate date on Billie Marten’s miniature and whistle-stop sold out tour of the UK. And if its success is anything to go by, the future is certainly looking bright for the young musician.
Catch our interview with Billie Marten