This 4-song EP is Tamara And The Martyrs’ first music release as a complete band, but, of course, Tamara is no stranger to the Oxford music scene. The band consists of Tamara Parsons-Baker as chief vocalist, Humphrey Astley (Huck And The Handsome Fee) on guitar and Tommy Longfellow on drums, with the latter two once forming part of the group Sextodecimo who were once dubbed ‘Oxford’s Greatest Ever Metal Band’ by Nightshift magazine.
The first track ‘Payday Slag’ begins with a heavy blues riff, which is immediately overshadowed by the power of front Tamara Parsons-Baker’s voice which joins soon after, he vocal skills reminds me of Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine; similar voice and similar band name, and not a bad band to mimic! My whole attention is on the voice and I feel the band is made a bit redundant. The song title hits home for many listeners these days, and the clever lyrics are sung with such gusto that I feel Tamara should perhaps change career and head for the West End.
Track two ‘Hang My Picture’ is a slower love song that shows another side of Tamara’s voice that’s softer, blending perfectly with the non-invasive acoustic guitar in a sweet vibrato, until song three ‘Real Bad’ Lover brings back that stage voice. The music moves to accommodate her as she acts out the song with her voice. A male band member joins her occasionally to bring in some harmony but it’s barely noticeable and barely necessary.
The final track, ‘Billboards’, is a great ending for this EP, showcasing the talent of the band as much as the talent of Tamara. All in all, the collection of vocal ability, lyrics and use of words make the songs feel more like artworks, although I’m not sure Tamara really needs a band. Catch them at the O2 Academy Oxford on October 29th with Charly Coombes And The New Breed.