Described as “like a young Billie Holiday gate-crashing a Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones recording session”, blues and roots duo Ma Polaine’s Great Decline continue to build a reputation as an intriguing and hard to pigeon-hole act.
2016’s EP release Small Town Talk gained rave media reviews, building on 2015’s nomination as an emerging artist in the British Blues Awards, winning a Reveal Records emerging act competition, an international song-writing semi-final spot for Suffer It Well from 2013 EP of the same name. Throughout last year Ma Polaine’s Great Decline toured the country, taking in the finest of intimate venues and enjoyed a busy festival season, culminating with triumphant sets at Towersey Festival and Purbeck Valley Folk Festival.
From the start Beth Packer and Clinton Hough always sought to keep their song-writing influences open. A strong base of blues is there, with jazz and country also holding sway, original writing is the focus, with oddness, sparsity and a subtle quality that is their own. There is a freedom for Packer to explore her vocal qualities and lyric writing, creating tales of haunting beauty, veiled sorrow, and a darker image of happiness.
The live band has moved through several line-ups and have returned to their roots as a duo. Live Packer moves between double bass, accordion and harmonica, with Hough on electric or acoustic guitar, all accompanying Packer’s powerful yet sensitive vocal.
99/100. This awesome album lost one point because “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
Roots Music Report
“5 stars”, “Ma Polaine’s Great Decline once again generates a dark, highly seductive atmosphere part jazz, part cabaret; the potency of which is magnified by their minimalist approach”.
“Ma Polaine’s Great Decline inhabit that twilight zone between decadence and respectability but they never let you know in which camp they are going to plant their musical foot”.
Blues And Soul Magazine
“8/10”, “Crying out to be used on sound tracks. A very cinematic sound.. The icing on the cake is their vocalist. Stunning singer Beth Packer is someone to get to know”.
Northern Sky Magazine
“4/5”, “an utterly compelling soundscape”.