After the storm, there comes that ray of sun followed by a rainbow. It's certainly apt for Marjory Fair's second album to be entitled I Am My Own Rainbow, as they have been under a cloud for the last decade. Formed in 2004 the New-Jersey band released their debut album before embarking on support slots for artists such as Sheryl Crow and John Mayer. Despite acclaim the band was subsequently dropped from their record label, causing the band to go their separate ways. During their 12-year hiatus vocalist and songwriter, Evan Slamka pursued his own musical and creative endeavors, including helping to raise his daughter which was a major factor in putting the project on hold for so long.
Slamka has finally returned with Marjorie Fair's sophomore album I Am My Own Rainbow; a collection of 7 new songs and a reworking of three tracks previously released on 2010's Square On Square EP (Black Holes, North Star and Songbird) The album enlists the help of collaborator and fellow bandmate Nic Jones, drummer and producer Joey Waronker and Grammy-winning engineer Darrel Thorpe, who have finally made the notorious second album a reality.
The album very much continues the work of their debut, Self Help Serenade. Slamka's wistful vocals and hippy melodies are still at the forefront, but there is a very definite shift in the production and orchestration. There's more studio influences, horns, harmonies and a better direction in sound than before. The album opener Brothers and Sisters enhances the band's sound with the use of sound samples coupled with the familiar Marjorie Fair jangling acoustic guitar. The drums add a feel of 60s psychedelia to the track, which resurfaces periodically through the album. Black Hole sounds like a Keane out-take, and more akin to their indie roots but Wandering Song keeps the album in line with more of the 'summer of love' sound, with a fusion of contributing sounds to pulling it into the modern age.
14th Century Man plays on the use of harmonies and electric guitar in much the same way that tracks like Waves and How Can You Laugh? did on the first album. Avalanche switches the feel of the album to pull out an elegant ballad in the vein of the Greenwich Village folk scene. Its simplicity relies on Slamka's vocal style to carry it, which he does, but it's made slightly disjointed by the excessive drum and harmonica arrangements which overshadow the vocals toward the end of the track. One of the remixed tracks, Northstar is given a modern electro make-over with layering over live instrumentation and as a result is probably one of the better tracks on the album. Songbird returns us to the lullaby of the acoustic guitar and is possibly the strongest example of Slamka's abilities as a singer-songwriter.
It's all rather heady stuff, the ideal music for wearing a kaftan or dancing naked in the mud at Glasto. It's light-hearted, soothing and less nu-gaze than it's predecessor, but it's patchy in places as the band seem torn between which end of the musical spectrum to move towards. The album is certainly not without its merits, and there some pleasant moments, but if Marjory Fair are searching for that crock o' gold, they may need to use this latest album as the starting point to re-define their sound after so long away.