Song-by-Song: ‘Marlinchen In The Snow’ by Charm Of Finches

Charm Of Finches. Photo: Jeff Andersen Jr
Charm Of Finches. Photo: Jeff Andersen Jr

Charm Of Finches: “Sometimes we can sink into dark places psychologically.” Photo: Jeff Andersen Jr

Sisters Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes step back into the Nova Scotian winter as they reflect upon their enchanting new record

With a childhood steeped in the sounds of Americana, Appalachian mountain music and English/Celtic folk songs, sisters Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes have long been adding their own contemporary tunes to the traditional canon. Beginning their journey together by busking outside their local vegetable shop in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote, the first Charm Of Finches EP, 2014’s Home, was initially part of a school project and led on to their debut album Staring At The Starry Ceiling.

With a further two albums and both a Independent Music Award and Music Victoria Award to their names, Mabel and Ivy are now back with their fourth feature-length record, Marlinchen In The Snow. Recorded in rural Nova Scotia with acclaimed Canadian producer Daniel Ledwell, the album tackles themes of travel, loneliness, belonging and home with an added gelid sentiment creeping in from their winter setting.

If you like your folk music to come with a gothic sheen and sibling harmonies, you’ll want to listen to this one. Enchanted, we asked Mabel and Ivy to reveal a little more about each track…

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CLEAN CUT

Leaving Melbourne for four months on tour in Europe served as the catalyst for a break-up and Clean Cut is some self-advice. We started writing Clean Cut on a friend’s grand piano in Oslo, Norway. The accompanying music video was made with the help of our Melbourne friends who were willing to dress up as dolls and clowns. This was a huge 22-hour warehouse shoot where we recreated a mysterious haunted doll museum.

ATLANTIS

Atlantis is a place to retreat to when overcome by intense emotions. We used the analogy of the mythical city of Atlantis which appears in ancient mythologies as a place which, once beautiful, became stagnant and some inhabitants were led out of it and onto a boat pulled by a giant fish to start a new life. Sometimes we can sink into dark places psychologically, like being underwater. Water for us equates with the emotional life – we just keep gravitating to it in our lyrics.

LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND

Last year we went on a long five-month tour in the UK and Europe. While traveling and playing shows around the world is full of excitement, there is always the sadness of leaving behind loved ones. This song paints two worlds – home in Australia and then the wide world of possibilities and new landscapes of touring. There’s a seesaw between longing for adventure and nestling into the warmth and familiarity of home. Coming from searing hot Australian summer to the icy depths of Nova Scotia, Canada, gave us a perfect framework to play with images and feelings to express the polarities of adventure and homeliness. It’s the paradox of homesickness.

IF YOU KNOW ME

This is about having a resting bitch face and navigating communication in the initial stages of a relationship – haha. When we were recording this song we felt it needed something extra and so we cheekily asked Sam Bentley from The Paper Kites if he might jump on it in some capacity. He came back with an incredible second verse which completed it perfectly.

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TEMPORARY HOME

To continue on the theme of travel, we’ve reflected a lot on the touring lifestyle and how the idea of home seems to be broken down when you spend so much time on the road – a night in each place. Small things like a morning coffee can be a strange familiar comfort.

This song definitely feels melancholy but we do have a great time on the road! We wrote this in a hostel in Stockholm when touring around Sweden, we were both feeling pretty homesick. Our tour manager Per (bloody legend) commented on the touring life, ‘It’s just a long series of goodbyes.’ We both took out our phones and typed it into our Notes app – it perfectly summed up the experience, so we put it in the song.

MIDDLE OF YOUR MESS

A tongue-in-cheek bop on when women sometimes like to blame other women for their own internal issues when it comes to relationships. At the time of writing this one, we were listening a lot to Norah Jones’ album Little Broken Hearts on repeat and we think some of her brazen brutal honesty was an influence on this song.

When we took ourselves off to Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula Victoria for a songwriting week, we set a challenge to write a song in an hour – this was one that came out.

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Charm Of Finches. Photo: Jeff Andersen Jr

Charm Of Finches: “There’s a seesaw between longing for adventure and nestling into the warmth and familiarity of home.” Photo: Jeff Andersen Jr

HUMAN

We feel really lucky to have worked with some incredible men in our music career and in life in general. As women, we want to assume that men will treat us with respect and human decency but unfortunately, it feels inevitable that you come across those who appear at first to be trustworthy yet violate your boundaries, leaving you questioning your level of trust and how much of a guard to put up. This song gives the middle finger to any man who treats us less than human.

BEND AND BREAK

We had the great privilege of visiting the beautiful Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula for a songwriting residency back in 2022. Soaking in natural spring baths among a symphony of frog calls, the soft wiring of damselflies and native birdsong was the backing track to the writing of this one. We then finished the song later that year in a green room in Sheffield, England.

MARLINCHEN IN THE SNOW

This was the very last song we wrote for the album, one snowy night in Dan’s studio just outside Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. We stayed in the studio for a month which was about 100m from Dan’s house and in the woods, with a frozen lake at our doorstep. This environment reminded us of the fairytales we were told as kids, set in a forest of firs.

There is one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales we both remember which always disturbed us as children called The Juniper Tree. It’s pretty creepy and probably needs a bit of a trigger warning. Basically, it involves an evil stepmother murdering a little boy and feeding him to his father. The dead boy then becomes a bird who tells his step-sister of his demise. The song begins as a reflection of being in the beautiful winter environment but becomes the story of the boy and his sister Marlinchen.

IN THE DARK

We recommend this song for a playful boogie in the firelight.

The new Charm Of Finches album Marlinchen In The Snow is out now and Mabel and Ivy will be touring the UK this summer. For tickets and more head to charmoffinchesband.com



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