Album Review: Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land | Marina
Marina’s music is maybe the most mature specimen of pop material -lyric-wise- that has managed to stay supported in an industry filled with meaningless icons. Back then she had appeared as a new, promising pop star but she was writing lyrics that rejected and even mocked this title. Throughout her discography she has played with personas that seemed ‘commercial’ but deep down they were completely unconventional. At some point her sassiness started giving its place to maturity (Love+Fear) and even though her sound did not change much, her context did.
Her latest album is so self-explanatory that I almost had no reason to write this other than my personal need to promote its themes and Marina’s work which I find deeply important at this point in time.
The album opens with ‘Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land’, an ode to individuality. In a society full of norms and stereotypes 'We are not our bodies, our minds, our brains, our feelings and thoughts or our DNAs’ but our consciousness and energy instead. We are all the good we can give and all the awareness we can conquer. And the Legacy we’ve carried until now is only a burden that belongs to another world, another time. Wow. Isn’t this the whole subject of Korfian’s ‘Legacy’ EP? That's why I relate so much :p
Taking the self-empowerment theme a bit further, she suggests: ‘Why be a wallflower when you can be a Venus Fly Trap’? In other words, 'Why choose small and easygoing when you can just take control, get what you crave the most and become the fiercest version of yourself'? There’s only one life and there’s no better way to go through it than to make it count and live it in our own terms.
Now, the album was introduced to us through ‘Man’s World’ which actually sounds like the anthem of 2021. Since the world is currently going through massive changes, with gender rights -among others- going through a crisis, 'Man's World' speaks about femininity's degradation through the centuries, from burning witches to the stake - to not respecting mother Earth – to gay crimes. Marina is chanting: ‘So don’t punish me cause I’m not a man’ in grievance as she closes her testimony before us.
Only to start a movement with ‘Purge The Poison’, a wake up call to create a new world and ‘heal our own damage’. Misogyny, Capitalism, War, Judgment have no place here. ('2007 when size zero was the rage, Britney shaved her head and, All we did was call her crazed').
Marina’s commanding tone makes you imagine her as the president that America needs right now as much as the whole world. And guess what. After the heartfelt ‘Highly Emotional People’, a tribute to being free to be vulnerable, to own the power of our emotions, there’s this gem titled ‘New America’! A signature Marina track (a combo of decisive, operatic vocals and uplifting, pop melody) expressing everything that America is to the rest of the world:
‘They've got blood on their hands cause they stole all the land. And all the lives they erased made them feel like a man. Who gave you jazz, hip hop, rock and roll, and the blues? No matter what, the story's catching up on you’.
Too brave for a pop-star? But Marina has disclaimed this title for herself long ago.
And then she’s toning down the riot to pray that ‘hope is not lost’ in ‘Pandora’s Box’. In Greek Mythology, Pandora opened a jar left in her care containing sickness, death and many other unspecified evils which were then released into the world. Sounds like 2021 alright! But the track is about getting back to our core, discharging the darkness and ‘loving ourselves more’. Marina’s ‘I Love You But I Love Me More’ is a statement against the pattern we grew up in, suppressing ourselves to be liked and accepted, and sadly, it’s still not clear to many how loving ourselves first is the beginning for a better world.
‘Flowers’ gives us a 'time out' to take a breath in an album that feels like a war. Healing and serene, Marina wishes she got ‘flowers’ when her relationship needed it the most while at the same time accepts her new state of happiness ‘And now my future gleams With colors bold and bright In a home that's filled with love and hope and a life that just feels right’
'Goodbye', the 10th and last song of the album is a farewell to a previous version of herself, which is no other than the one that got her to this point. So she gracefully sings ‘Goodbye My Friend’ paying tribute to her past for the role it played in her life. I can’t help but notice the clever lyrics here ‘Shine your light down on me, somewhere between old and new’ making a full circle. The album is closing the way it opened. Stating the contrast between ancient and modern...
And that’s ‘Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land’! A transition from a binding, moldy past to a future of freedom and fearlessness. It’s about self-growth as well as letting everyone shine in their own light. For we are capable of working forever on being better humans with openness, compassion and kindness. If anyone in the future would ask for an album that represets/explains the state of today's world, this one is ideal. Marina, once more, made a piece to remember. This is music with purpose, value, and a pop character that makes it easy for everyone to sit down and think. Bravo from a proud, Greek fan and fellow artist.