Martha Ffion @ Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, 9 Mar
Glasgow songwriter Martha Ffion presents a solid run-through of her debut album
It’s release night for Sunday Best, the debut album from Glasgow-based songwriter Claire McKay, better known by her middle/stage names Martha Ffion. The record’s 60s-inflected indie pop is the ideal antidote to this second winter we’ve been having, and with the able backing of a band containing members of Savage Mansion and Admiral Fallow we’re treated to a fully fleshed-out take on the new album.
We’ll give the band a mention up front, because this is very clearly McKay’s show. Her delicate vocals are excellent throughout, and they act as the pivot around which everything else moves. From the moment she takes up position centre stage for album opener Missing You, McKay has the room enveloped in urbane tales of lost loves set to lovely, jangly guitars.
That said, this is a very unshowy gig – the 45-minute set is less ‘explosive thrill ride’, more ‘breezy Sunday drive’. When the songwriting is this good, though, there’s no real reason to go wild with bells and whistles. And there are some fantastic songs here, from the whirling reverb of Punch Drunk to the Camera Obscura-esque power pop of Real Love. The extent of McKay’s songwriting ability is laid bare by a mid-set Teenage Fanclub cover that feels almost unnecessary; it’s a real mark of quality to be able to take on work by an iconic Scottish band and still outshine it with your own material.
Martha Ffion is an exciting songwriter, and Sunday Best is a fantastic debut album. Tonight is an excellent introduction to its charms; expect to see the live version come into full bloom as we head into spring and summer.