Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Eddie Martin - Thirst

I do like it when a really good album suddenly drops into my lap.  Thirst is one of those pleasant surprises.  It probably shouldn’t be a surprise, given that it’s Eddie Martin’s twelfth studio album, but – well, sorry Eddie, I’m afraid we haven’t been introduced before.
How to describe Thirst?  Well, here’s a checklist.
If the idea of Sixties British blues stylings given a twenty-first century sound appeals to you, Thirst should float your boat.
If you like well-crafted songwriting in a variety of blues-related styles, I think you’ll find it
Eddie Martin - pleased to meet you, squire!
If damn good slide guitar playing does it for you, this is an album that’s peppered with it – but always serving the song.
Do you appreciate lyrics that are sharp and imaginative?  Eddie Martin has that base covered too.
Fancy a side-order of organ and piano, with harmonica relish?  Check.
If you’re in the mood for – tell you what, let’s talk about some of the songs, shall we?

Several of the eleven tracks on Thirst are corking uptempo affairs, with the opener ‘One Man Band’ leading the way, teasing with a fuzzy riff and hoots of harp, both courtesy of Martin himself, before bursting into rocking life life over thumping drums from Tom Gilkes.  It’s a simple song that hits the bullseye right away.  ‘Sewn Up’ is rootsier, with Martin’s slide guitar coming to the fore over a lurching beat and ringing piano from Yuki Yoshizu.
Towards the end of the album, ‘Silver Spoon’ is a relaxed, upbeat shuffle with a real Blues explosion feel, the rhythm section swinging with ease, while Martin knocks out piquant wah-wah licks and delivers witty lyrics.  And the following ‘Fix It’ rattles along on a shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits kinda rhythm, with injections of squawking harp and a crackling, fizzingly bluesy guitar line, adding up to a great, toe-tappingly fun song.
But Martin has other strings to his bow too.  Notably the slower ‘Free Man Blues’, which features moaning, echoing slide, and distant washes of organ from Jonny Henderson over a nagging groove, while the lyrics explore the meaning of freedom.  ‘Like Water’ is another slowie, opening with acoustic 12-string guitar as a preface for a sweeter, weeping slide sound, and spells of both organ and Dan Moore’s Fender Rhodes over a tripping beat.  There’s evocative imagery, a guitar solo that majors on feeling and space, and a closing crescendo propped up by a big bass line from Jerry Soffe.
Lose that frown fella, we like it!
‘Imagine Us From The Sky’ has an epic quality, without ever being grandiose, with Martin displaying fresh phrase-making on lines like “Does the nightingale tell the peacock ‘Your song is like a squeaky door’?  Does the peacock reply, ‘Your feathers are such a bore?’”  But best of the big moments is the closing ‘Frozen Lake’, an atmospheric affair that’s all rumbling bass, pattering percussion, and wonky, Chris Isaak-esque twanging guitar – and even the chiming of some tubular bells, methinks.  All told it’s like being drawn into a dreamscape spooky enough to make Mike Zito’s ‘Old Black Graveyard’ sound like ‘You Are My Sunshine’.
Martin rings other changes too, from the funky ‘Searching For Home’ to the Freddie King-like intro of the shuffling ‘Run River’, with its stinging slide solo, and the Allmans-styled ‘Louisiana Woman’.
Martin may not be BB King in the vocal stakes, but he does have a strong, engaging voice, and across the piece he gets sterling support from the slick backing vocals of Audra Nishita and Nadine Gingell.
Maybe a couple of tracks could have been judiciously trimmed – Martin does like to spread himself a bit.  Maybe a couple of songs don’t reach the slam-dunk standards of the rest.  But these are quibbles, and don’t take the gloss off the overall product.  Nice to meet you Eddie Martin – Thirst is a damn fine album to warm up a cold winter’s night.

Thirst was released on 6 December by Blueblood Records, and can be bought from https://eddiemartin.com/music/.

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