Moody, brooding, and mysterious, “Birch” by Maja Lena is a magical exploration of sound, including roots-y folk sounds and ethereal new age harmonies. To give you a sense of its true essence, immediately upon listening, I added it to my playlist called “fulfilling my dream of becoming a witch in the forest,” alongside artists like Mountain Man, Angel Olsen, and AURORA. It’s also incredibly rare I write from a personal perspective- but this one calls for a different kind of review.
I was immediately drawn in with its opening— it’s reminiscent of the wind chimes at the beginning of “Welcome Home, Son” by Radical Face, placing the listener in an outdoor setting. The acoustic guitar comes noodling in next, giving it a folky flair and conjuring mental images of the forest. Her airy vocals juxtapose with and soften the low noodling as well as the gritty bassline that’s introduced in the chorus, while also adding an almost mischievous energy; especially in the lofty harmonies echoing above the rest of the song. Its overall flow reminds me of the fairies of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” moving whimsically and dancing through the woods to cause a little bit of trouble if for nothing else but some fun.
As the first song from her debut album, The Keeper, Maja Lena writes, “Birch is a song about feeling vulnerable yet elated. About starting a new phase of life and love, yet also knowing that this elation could be snatched away at any given moment. The Birch tree here is a symbol for this feeling, and its branches moving in the wind resemble a feeling of freedom and excitement.”
Maja Lena is a solo project from the creative brain of Marianne Parrish, formerly known for her role in alt-folk band Low Chimes. Singing about themes such as self-doubt, growing up, escapism, she pairs these ideas with natural imagery as reflected in “Birch,” as well as her other songs like “Avalanche” and “Hammer the Iceberg”. Her debut album, The Keeper, is set to release July 23rd via Chiverin Records.
Written by Jess Ward