Starting her lengthy career as a member of acclaimed breakbeat outfit The Bombazines, Porto, Portugal-born and based-vocalist and JOVM mainstay Marta Ren has kept herself very busy: after a two-record stint with The Bombazines, Ren contributed her vocals to a number of nationally known acts. Over the past couple of years, Ren, who has long been inspired by 60s funk and soul, has received national and international attention with The Groovelets, releasing 2016’s full-length debut Stop Look Listen to airplay from BBC Radio 6′s Craig Charles and Radio France‘s Francis Viel, as well as praise from this site and others.
As a result of a rapidly growing profile, Marta Ren and The Groovelets played sets across the European festival circuit, including stops at Trans Musicales Festival, Sziget Festival, Eurosonic Nooderslag and Mostly Jazz Funk and Soul Festival. But since then, Ren decided to go solo, further establishing what she has dubbed “Funk & Roll,” while uncompromisingly asserting her own destiny.
Last year, Ren collaborated with Matosinhos Jazz Orchestra on re-interpreted and re-worekd versions songs off her critically applauded debut with The Groovelets, the psych soul barnburner “Worth It” and beloved classics from the American Songbook. The collaboration was so fruitful that it continued with Ren performing with Matosinhos Jazz Orchestra at this year’s Avant Festival, which was aired nationally on Antena3/RTP in her native Portugal. That live set included Ren’s latest single “22:22.”
Centered around a propulsive groove, wah wah pedaled guitar, an enormous horn line and Ren’s self-assured, take-no-prisoners and take-no-bullshit delivery, “22;22” sounds as though it owes a sonic debt to James Brown — in particular The Payback-era James Brown. Thematically, the song finds Ren’s narrator referencing the continuous need to be honest struggling with the need to listen to herself while maneuvering the challenges and pitfalls of pleasing others, who may not be easily pleased.