In February 2020, Marta Palombo successfully orchestrated a release show for her cinematic and ethereal EP “Him, Vol. 1”. The Italian-American songstress and composer spent years dedicated to that moment and the opportunities she’d expected to follow. On the night of the show, everything was perfect; as if the pieces of a puzzle she’d been working on for so long were miraculously falling into place. She watched doors open, opportunities fall into her lap, and kindled a fiery motivation that pushed her closer to her dreams than ever before. She was on track to graduate from Belmont University in the summer, and hoped to pursue music full time shortly after. Everything was going according to plan...until March 2020. A tornado struck Nashville, leaving the city broken and in shock. Two weeks later, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Large festivals began announcing cancellations, tours called off, and eventually local shows followed suit. Stay at home orders were placed, jobs turned remote, schools closed, and mask mandates were introduced, as the nation began to understand the gravity of the virus. By April the whole world shifted, and the foundation Marta planned to build her career from seemed to crumble.
The poetic folk-pop artist, now twenty-two, moved back in with her parents in Georgia in hopes of waiting out the chaos. Now, a year later, and not much global change, Marta Palombo is finally ready to release the art she created through her confusing and traumatic year. While not quite the year she’d envisioned, Marta found light in the creative ways she adapted, and grew in ways she wouldn’t have otherwise. Her first single of 2021, “Sketches,” effortlessly illustrates this feeling.
From the opening line, “Hello, it’s been a while,” we’re already feeling up close and personal. Marta explains that the line came to her while having a phone conversation with a friend; she said those exact words and the idea clicked. The rest of “Sketches” flowed out of her.
She says, “‘Sketches’ is the idea of how things that are unfinished can be beautiful and raw...it felt ‘tone def’ to put out something that didn’t address the universal trauma, I thought ‘Sketches’ was personal and vulnerable.”
Marta created a demo and brought the track to producer Foster Ferrell. After a few listens she knew she needed a string quartet. Some cello, violin, viola and upright bass (all played by Gideon Klein) created the perfect finishing touches. With mixing by Matt Huber and a master by Alex McCallough, the single was polished and ready for release by February 19th, 2021, marking almost exactly a year since her February 2020 EP release show. Serendipitous, maybe, and definitely bittersweet. “Sketches” foreshadows two more releases by Palombo in the coming months she’s decided to dub the Quarantine Tapes. While the tracks will be fully produced and polished, Palombo liked how the title conveyed the intimate and raw emotion that accompanied so many artists throughout 2020.
“With this release [I’m] trying to document a moment in time. We all went through this together, globally. [‘Sketches’] is trying to convey that you are not alone in these sentiments. If you feel useless or unable to do anything, there are other people who feel the same. My writing focuses on the idea of stillness. We tend to live in a world that is fast paced, causing us to move forward in our emotions a lot more quickly than we should. We constantly try to immediately fix things or move on, when maybe we should sit and feel for a moment,” explains Palombo of the message behind the Quarantine Tapes.
So sit and feel for a moment while you listen to the beautifully orchestrated song that is “Sketches,” – you won’t regret it. Find it on Spotify (or whichever streaming platform you prefer) and be sure to follow Marta on Instagram for details about the next Quarantine Tapes releases.