Why, The Marriage?
What is in a band name? There’s obviously a prescriptive meaning to marriage, but for Americana duo Kirsten Adamson and Dave Burn, the word has so many more connotations.
Kirsten has been around music all her life. The daughter of Skids and Big Country founder Stuart Adamson, she spent her childhood living with her mother in Dunfermline and her summers in Nashville with her dad. Discouraged by mum from a music career, a teenage interest in musical theatre blossomed into her first band The Gillyflowers, which eventually petered out after hitting a critical mass of personnel changes.
“By then it was just me left from the original line-up, so it didn’t feel right to release the album we’d recorded,” she explains. When her brother Callum pulled out of a Scottish coffee house tour with his own group, his bandmate Dave Burn invited Kirsten to step in.
London-born Dave had been skirting the capital’s music world since he was 15, when his mid-90s grunge band was signed to a major label. In two years the group slowly went nowhere, was dropped, and Dave started playing as a solo acoustic singer-songwriter. On the verge of giving up music entirely, the fates had him agree to one last gig.
“The only person in the audience was Kirsten’s brother Cal, and he asked me to form a band,” Dave recalls. The band was Ahab, a promising electric folk five-piece who recorded two albums before they, too, folded.
“Kirsten and I’d known each other for years,” Dave explains. “Whenever we met we would write together, and she stepped in on the tour when Cal didn’t turn up. It went so well, and we’d already written so much material, that it just seemed too good not to continue.”
And The Marriage was born. But what about that name? Clearly a duo, the pair are coy about their private relationship, preferring to point towards their mingled talents and skills, among them not just gorgeous harmonies but the relative ease with which they write their timeless songs, many of them about deeply intimate relationships.
“Our songs are intimate, but they’re not about us,” Kirsten says. “Our own experiences are in there, but we’re not the people in the songs.”
“They’re about fictional people, and in a way it’s almost always the same couple,” Dave continues. “Actually, thinking about it, I can even picture them, I know what they look like.”
“Yeah, me too!” Kirsten says. “They don’t have names though.”
The Marriage’s fictional couple are very much to the fore on their debut single ‘Live, Love, Cry’, a classic country-folk break up song that serves as the lead track to an EP that will be released in 2019, followed by an album later in the year.
“He’s always playing up, doesn’t care whether it upsets her or not,” Dave says.
“She’s no longer a victim though,” Kirsten continues. “Instead she’s resigned, it doesn’t upset her anymore, and she’s finally going to live her own life rather than wait for him.”
It’s a song that conjures up great female/male duos of the past: Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry, Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, and more recently Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. It’s the last pair that particularly interest The Marriage.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve copied them, but it was the simplicity of what they do that we found interesting and wanted to strive towards,” Dave says.
With just their entwined voices, acoustic guitars and little else, songs don’t come much simpler, more direct, yet beautifully executed than ‘Live, Love, Cry’. This Marriage is truly made in heaven.
Dave Burn and Kirsten Adamson
(plus Charlie the cat)
Photo by Jannica Honey