Marina Allen’s debut with “Candlepower” (2021) came at an uninviting time for musicians whose elevation coexists with a stage and an audience. We hear the lightness of Karen Carpenter’s voice with the aspiration of Karen Dalton, mixed in instrumentals that either highlight free jazz details or compositions that explore decades of sunshine in Californian music. One is tempted to hear Marina Allen as a Weyes Blood who didn’t take a few steps and jump right into “Titanic Rising”. The comparison seems stretched, but listening to her latest, Centrifics, released last summer, you’re lulled into the same desire to dream and tell stories that confront themselves.
Allen also hails from California, Los Angeles, and has a willingness to bathe in experimentation, to accept the challenges of the unknown and the ideas that can be born by accepting anything that seems feasible. Hence “Centrifics” has that quality of an album that never tires, where you hear Allen building bridges between different sounds while testing her voice in different habitats. Maybe it’s not a surprise for her, we, the listeners, feel it as a challenge that favors the imagination of thinking where she will be in a few years, if with two albums she already risks so much and creates songs that respect space, silence, time. And at times it is worth questioning how such a delicate album sounds so risky, bold in its willingness to show itself and show a singer/songwriter without fear of the place her voice occupies. AS