Samantha Marais
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Samantha Marais

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"NME: Samantha Marais The Peppermint Conspiracy"



When Future Of The Left spit “And suddenly folk songs are part of our future”, they think it’s bad news. What they need is a slice of Samantha Marais’ fat-free debut to massage their bitter brains. Lighter than a Malteser in a flotation tank, Marais’ ethereal vocals fill rooms here with weightless, simple beauty. FOTL, folk off! SS

7/10
- NME


"Mojo Samantha Marais The Peppermint Conspiracy"

South African-born, London based songwriter, the missing link between Kate Bush and Françoise Hardy?

Originally from South Africa but now based in London, Samantha Marais hooked up with Simon Tong of The Verve to work on a series of gossamer-light, melody-rich songs. Hence this debut album recorded in, among other places, a shed at the bottom of producer Youth’s garden. Marais has a strong voice, but she can veer between gentle beauty and too much whimsy. Warm Winds is a classic song about love lost and Marais serves it perfectly, and she delivers a remarkable unaccompanied version of the traditional tune George Collins. But there are moments - such as on First Days Of June – where she sounds as though she’s skipping back from school saying hello to all the trees and flowers. Still, Marais has a charm that‘s reminiscent of Françoise Hardy and a lyrical sophistication that suggests Leonard Cohen as an influence. This is an album for quiet winter mornings, ideally accompanied with a cup of peppermint tea.

Will Hodgkinson
- Mojo


"Clash: SAMANTHA MARAIS The Peppermint Conspiracy"

While it’s in vogue for female singers to embrace their inner, swaggering cockney, it’s a bold move to record an album of such delicate fabric. Recalling British female luminaries such as Kristy MacColl on ‘First Days Of June’ and Kate Bush on the lazy-swaying guitar track, ‘Runaway’, Marais’ songs are all tinged with alienation, loss and sorrow yet her voice makes it seem like these are feeling we should immediately submit to. Standout tracks include the menacing amble of mandolin and melodica combination on ‘Now And Then’ and a reinterpretation of folk tale ‘George Collins’, which like Jeff Buckley’s inclusion of Corpus Christi Carol, emerges from nowhere but is a startling illustration of her plaintive vocal ability. - Clash


"www.subba-cultcha.com: Samantha Marais The Peppermint Conspiracy"

Folk music continues its resurgence with the exceptional female vocalist and songwriter.

The First thing I should do is give a little bow, and then start jigging like a 18th century dandy before I start this review. Not something I would choose to do, but something demanded of me by the eclectic brilliance of this mad folk songstress – Samantha Marais.
The PEPPERMINT CONSPIRACY is a collection of Dylan infused folk songs that stick so rigidly to the early template of what a folk song was, it is a surprise that the songs do not bend and shatter when she does attempt something modern and new with the sound. Which is not to say this is a bad album, in fact it is a fair far away from BAD. This is a lovely, beautiful, extremely relaxing album, by a talented, brilliant new voice.
It’s just this new voice, in my opinion, should be doing new things with a tired genre, and not subjecting the talent she has to such outdated methods. The world is dying for people who wear their hearts so brazenly on their sleeves, to come out and wow us all. And this girl, with her voice, her emotion, could very clearly do that.
If you are a crusty old rigid straight edge, hardcore folky, then you will adore this girl and her album. If like me, you are bored by modern music, bored more still by old music, and are dying, crying, SCREAMING out for someone to come and just wake the whole world up with a song, or collection of songs that mean something and can change the place… well.. She could have been it. She may still be it. But for now, she is just a good distraction, with a huge potential. Keep her in mind, she may soon lead the revolution.
By: Andi J Chamberlain
- www.subba-culcha.com


"Uncut SAMANTHA MARAIS The Peppermint Conspiracy"

Lovingly recreated approximations of 1960s English folk whimsy

Latest release from a label run by Simon Tong and Youth is by Marais, a young South African émigré who makes unnervingly good replications of 1960s English popfolk. In fact, the Sandy Denny/Vashti Bunyan-ish whimsy is reproduced so faithfully you could swear tracks like “First Days Of June” or “Hourglass” (with their hippy-dippy lyrics, harmonium drones and clumpy percussion) were 40-year-old Denny/Bunyan outtakes. The pastiche is enhanced by subtle psych flourishes and drone rock interludes. JOHN LEWIS
- Uncut


"The Sunday Telegraph Samantha Marais THE PEPPERMINT CONSPIRACY"

4 Stars

By far the best album of the week. Marais is a South African folkie whose trembly bell-like voice has been described, not unaptly, as combining ‘the Innocence of Sixties Francoise Hardy with the depth of Sandy Denny and Kate Bush.’ The songs on her debut straddle both ends of folk, from marvellously authentic finger-in-the-ear trad to strange and wonderful ‘nu weird’. It’s beguiling, melodic, imaginative, different and well worth a punt.
- The Sunday Telegraph


"The Skinny SAMANTHA MARAIS THE PEPPERMINT CONSPIRACY"

****

One of the most disappointing things that comes with getting older (I say this as a man who has yet to experience the decrepitude of incontinence and the indignity of sponge baths, of course) is that it becomes more and more difficult to come across music that is truly original. Thank the Lord then, for this strange and eccentric record. It’s a downbeat affair with a lazy feel to it, but appealingly so. London-based chanteuse Samantha Marais sleepily walks us through a Fantasia of exotic moods, bizarre imagery and anachronistic melodies. The album opens with what can only be described as Gaelic folk-pop, although later on, more subtle Eastern European and Arabian influences reveal themselves. With spoken poetry, modern acoustic folk, some harps and 12-string guitars, it’s difficult to pigeonhole such an eclectic piece of work, so let’s just call it ‘brilliant.’ LES OGILVIE

OUT NOW
WWW.MYSPACE.COM/SAMANTHAMARAIS
- The Skinny


"Shropshire Star Samantha Marais: The Peppermint Conspiracy"

If you’re looking for comparisons, think Sandy Denny, Kate Bush and the utterly compelling Francoise Hardy. Marais is a South-African born chanteuse who was influenced by her father’s passion for Bob Dylan. This is an outstanding work of real class. If you only buy one record this year by a previously unknown artist, make it this one. Our record of the week. ****
- The Shropshire Star


"British Folk’s up and coming stars get a much needed second outing here, on Butterfly Recordings second volume of Brit-folks new kids on the block."


Ok, so folk music has had a bad rap since Dylan went electric, and my leader probably hasn’t helped but folk can be, and often is, a fantastic-if stigmatized genre. Though the tracks here on ‘What the Folk. Vol. 2’ do their best to dispel any kind of clichéd pre-conception of folk you may have; dusty old men, tweed, beards, sandals and real ale it ain’t. From the elegiac beauty of Marcia Mello to the haunting dustbowl melancholia of Nic Dawson Kelly the range of styles on this 16 track sampler (12 if you remove neglect the pointless ‘interlude’s) is impressive; in fact at time you would contest that what you are listening to is folk.

Although it can’t all be genre transcending stuff and sadly Lisa Knapp’s ‘Three Knights’ conjures images not of Joanna Newsome or even Christy Moor-instead the much feared and loathed 1970s clichés begin to creep upon you like ants to the jell-o. There is very little wrong with the track per se, it just does an arguably ailing genre few favours. Though immediate relief is offered through the wonderful Samantha Marais; whose contribution ‘As I Rolled My Rolling Ball’ is possibly one of the sweetest things I’ve heard in years. Harnessing the same vulnerability of the likes of Isobel Campbell-though with a stronger vocal presence, the girl will have you swooning effortlessly-making it sound the most natural thing in the world.

The common problem with label compilations like ‘What the Folk’ or Rough Trade’s counter culture series is maintaining quality, which remarkably, is something that has been done here. As with the majority of records there are the odd rough tracks, yet the majority of the twelve songs that are here representing the British Folk scene and they do that fantastically. The likes of Indigo Moss and Chapel Of Dreams really do manage to show that it is becoming increasingly difficult to accurately profess ‘I don’t like folk music’ because judging from the evidence herein I was surprised as what could pass for folk.

If you’re still not sold, call me out and check out the website (www.butterflyrecordings.com) after you’re heard some of these guys and they’re stuff I’m sure you’ll be sold. ‘What the Folk Volume 2’ will not change your life, hell it might not even change your mind; but if you’ve got an open mind and a love of unfettered pure music this will thrill you. From Samantha Marais to Chapel of Dreams, Marcia Mello to Indigo Moss this compilation is full of talent just waiting for exposure, do yourself a favour and get on this.


By: Will Metcalfe
- www.subba-culcha.com


"An eccentric young woman with an early morning voice who you’d be happy to play host to."

Samantha Marais’ gentle debut is littered with musical eccentricities. She drops Suwannee whistles, flutes, and pedal harmonium solos magpie-like into her simple folk songs, but even in The Peppermint Conspiracy’s more indulgent moments (like Hourglass, where she accompanies sounds of bathing with a reading of Gerald Manley Hopkins’ poem The Wreck Of The Deutschland) the album plays with barely a hint of affectation. Kicking off with a passage spoken in Zulu – Marais grew up in South Africa – and then merging into ‘60s-flavoured pastoral folk with First Days Of June, her early-morning voice rings clear and true in the same way that Joanna Newsom and Jolie Holland’s do. The Peppermint Conspiracy sometimes sacrifices consistency in favour of experimentation – the bulk of the songs were produced by The Good, The Bad & The Queen’s Simon Tong and Youth. But still, it’s a set of beautiful songs and ideas that sound ancient and fresh in the same breath. JOHN INNES
- The Word


Discography

The Peppermint Conpiracy - LP 2008
First Days of June / Please Take your Time - AA Single 2008
Ordinary Man - Butterfly Recordings Compilation 1 2007
As I roll my rolling ball - Butterfly Recordings Compilation 2 2008
At My Door - LP Unofficial release Sept 2010 (official release March 2011)

Photos

Bio

NME 7/10
Lighter than a Malteser in a flotation tank, Marais’ ethereal vocals fill rooms here with weightless, simple beauty.

The Sunday Telegraph ****
By far the best album of the week… It’s beguiling, melodic, imaginative, different and well worth a punt.

On 25 February 2008 South African born Samantha Marais released her debut album, 'The Peppermint Conspiracy' for Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good, Bad & The Queen) and Youth (Killing Joke, The Orb) 's Butterfly Recordings.

Influenced by her father’s passion for Bob Dylan and her brother’s love of the guitar, Samantha started playing guitar herself at the age of 7, and has been singing and writing songs ever since. Arriving in London in the late 90’s at the age of 20, Sam lost no time in forming her first band, Contraband, with her ex-boyfriend. After the band split she decided to pursue a solo career, returning to her folksy roots and favouring an acoustic guitar and simple, honest narrative songs.

Youth introduced Sam to Simon Tong, his partner in the fledgling Butterfly Recordings label and a fruitful writing partnership was formed. Both became strong and challenging influences on her, some of the results such as 'Falling Star' and the album’s title track can be seen on 'The Peppermint Conspiracy'.

As well as teaming up with Nick Hollywell-Walker (Killing Joke) and old Contraband member Benji Vaughan, Sam also continued writing on her own and in 2006 she was signed to Simon and Youth’s newly formed label, releasing her debut track 'Ordinary Man' on their 'Butterfly Acoustic Recordings Vol 1' compilation. 'Stunning', NME said of Sam's track, 'a sultry mix of alt. acoustics and ethereal vocals', whilst Q magazine described it as one of the stand out tracks of the compilation.

With many songs already complete, recording for ‘The Peppermint Conspiracy’ was finished in 2007, where it had all began - in Youth’s studio at the bottom of his garden.

In support of the album, Samantha's band will be playing a series of dates which will offer the UK the first chance to hear her music, which, as Youth says, "sends tingles up the spine".

For more details visit:
www.samanthamarais.com
www.myspace.com/samanthamarais

Management: colinw@alanmcgeemanagement.com
Agent: marK@uniquegravity.co.uk
PR: ken@hermana.co.uk