We named Billie Marten an Artist To Watch back in 2016 after the then 15-year-old stunned us with her impressively sophisticated debut album, Writing Of Blues And Yellows. Today, she announced its follow-up, Feeding Seahorses By Hand, and shared lead single “Betsy.”
Aside from releasing one-off single “Mice,” Marten’s been flying under the radar. Like most teenagers, she spent the past couple of years finishing up school and spent some time traveling before getting to work on her new album. “Betsy” was actually written back in 2017 with longtime collaborator Rich Cooper, and it’s a politically inspired slow burn of a track.
The guitar sizzles as Marten’s ghostly vocals lightly echo in harmony. The chorus features some hand clapping and a tambourine, which work together to lend the song a summery vibe that’s especially felt when you pay close attention to the warm but somewhat dull bass line. The heavier undertone ensures that the musicality matches the gravity of the lyrics.
Here’s Marten with more details on the track’s political content:
It was the first time I’d tried jamming with someone and had the pressure of writing instant, spontaneous lyrics. They poured out actually, it’s about confronting a politician, no one in particular, but sort of ridiculing them … I didn’t want the big political stance, and I didn’t want to single out a specific human, it’s representing parliament as a whole institution really. The song turns the wise old politician into a child, infantilizing them takes away their power. I think most people feel a bit unsafe with it all, because it’s impossible relate to these characters. No one shows any personal weakness or empathy, and if they do, they’ve already cracked.
Listen to “Betsy” below.
Feeding Seahorses By Hand is out 4/26.