As Billie Marten plays a not-so-secret gig, podcasters Chalmers and Hutch discuss the rise of the Ripon singer-songwriter…

Billie Marten: Ripon singer-songwriter in full bloom on third album Flora Fauna and at secret Harrogate gig with a full band. PIcture: Katie Silvester

WHAT else do culture vultures Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson cram into Episode 57 of Two Big Egis In A Small Car?

How about Blade Runner and where next for billionaires in space?

What’s going on with Covid passports and arts venues?

What can the arts expect from novel Tory Culture supremo Nadine Dorries?

What is the future for album covers?

What was CH’s verdict on Tonderai Munyevu’s Mugabe, My Dad And Me at York Theatre Royal, The Woman In Black at the reopened Grand Opera House, York, and the pie-laden Waitress at Leeds Grand Theatre?

How does it feel to face up to the questions for the revived People We Love exhibition, soon to return to York Minster.

To find the answers, listen to:

Billie Marten breaks free from toxic bonds in return to nature for May’s Flora Fauna

“The general sentiment breeds happiness and optimism, which is something I wasn’t particularly familiar with thus far,” says Billie Marten of her single Garden Of Eden. Picture: Katie Silvester

RIPON singer-songwriter Billie Marten releases new single Garden Of Eden today, to be followed by third album Flora Fauna, her first for Fiction Records, on May 21.

Raised in the rolling hills of North Yorkshire on the songcraft of Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading and Kate Bush, Billie made her studio debut, Writing Of Blues And Yellows, at the age of only 17 in 2016.

Feeding Seahorses By Hand followed in 2019 and Garden Of Eden ends the recording silence since then, accompanied by a video created with Lydia Poole.

“It’s a song of growth and competition to evolve as individuals in an increasingly suffocating and vacuous society,” says Billie. “I liked the idea of humans growing up like tomatoes in the greenhouse, needing water and oxygen and space, but not getting any of it.

“The idea of seeking the natural elements and needing only that to survive plays into my constant dichotomy of living urban or bucolic. The choruses act as a burst of relief to allow space to breathe and to express that want of living right.

“The name Flora Fauna is like a green bath for my eyes,” says Billie Marten, introducing her new album

“This was one of the first pivotal songs for me as the general sentiment breeds happiness and optimism, which is something I wasn’t particularly familiar with thus far.”

Recorded with Rich Cooper in London, Flora Fauna blends Billie’s signature hushed, resonant vocals with a rapid pulse and rich instrumentation, her inspirations now stretching from Krautrock pioneers Can to Broadcast, Arthur Russell to Fiona Apple.

Built on her trademark minimalist acoustic folk foundations, Billie’s third album is a more mature work, fostered around a strong backbone of bass and rhythm. Shedding the timidity of past recordings in favour of a more urgent sound, the songs mark a period of independence for Marten as she learned to nurture herself and break free from toxic relationships.

Returning to nature has played a significant role. “I wasn’t really treating myself very well, it was a bit of a disruptive time. All these songs are about getting myself out of that hole; they’re quite strong affirmations.

“The name Flora Fauna is like a green bath for my eyes. If the album were a painting, it would look like flora and fauna: it encompasses every organism, every corner of Earth, and a feeling of total abundance.”

The track listing will be: Garden Of Eden; Creature Of Mine; Human Replacement; Liquid Love; Heaven; Ruin; Pigeon; Kill The Clown; Walnut and Aquarium.