“What’s true for some
Just like a song could break your heart
When the sum is framed
To mislead them all
The fated cast
With the chances slim to none
Whenever the moment comes
To it may they rise.”
“On A Sunday Morning”
There is obviously something poignant, almost too painful, in the lyrics of that song, but you would not be remiss if you also heard a faint echo of resignation in its written word. However, everything changes when Rebecca Martin sings the song she calls “On A Sunday Morning”. All sense of urbanity vanishes as Martin gets under the skin of this long-limbed melancholy masterpiece, performing it with a lovely flexible timing. She floats the exquisitely limpid lines with a hurting angularity allowing her pain to effortlessly unfold, daubing it with elemental indigos mixed with a tear. The visceral energy rips the dry piece off the page, transformed by tone textures of raw silk from a voice like no other vocalist you have ever heard.
Much of the music that Rebecca Martin has written bares the nerves of her feminine persona in a headlong collision with pain in all its rawness. You sense body-blows which Martin describes with deliberate, agonizingly slow rhythmic accuracy in the bass line melody. Meanwhile her voice sails over the yowling twang of her guitar as she paints her way through her songs with a fine brush, capturing the fine details of the narrative with glistening delicacy and nuanced realism, but without the bitter sardonicism that informs the music of Joni Mitchell, an artist who comes closest to the free-flowing, lyrical aesthetic in the music of Rebecca Martin. However, Mitchell’s shadow shortens quickly as Rebecca Martin pulls away as if taking the proverbial torch from Mitchell before disappearing into the infinite blue.
Rebecca Martin & Guillermo Klein: The Upstate Project
Featuring Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard
I have enjoyed every one of the discs by Rebecca Martin and this one, The Upstate Project lives up to expectations before surpassing them. On this disc, Rebecca Martin and Guillermo Klein, together with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard play with the familiarity of enduring relationships. Throughout, Martin’s and Klein’s playing retains that sense of gracious etiquette associated with nobility. They approach each other from different ends of their oceanic musical topography and come together in a darkened ballroom. Nothing is forced or exaggerated or overly mannered; music and lyrics, tempos and balance – all seem effortlessly and intuitively right. The guitar sound is lucid, while Klein’s keyboards add warmth to the music. This piece is poised; fitting tributes to the faultless character of each other’s music. Can one pick a favourite? Perhaps; but then one runs the risk of selling the beauty of another short. The repertoire by Guillermo Klein has lyrics specially penned by Rebecca Martin for The Upstate Project.
It is a novel partnership, one that had been ‘imagined’ for some time before Klein and Martin finally got together to work through it. Each of the four songs is quintessentially Klein, with astonishingly insightful playing, musically captivating and technically blemishless. Guillermo Klein’s voice is characteristically dry and deadpan, yet edgy. Rebecca Martin is utterly beckoning, with fantasies, airs and lamento that make each of the four tracks introspective, stirring and poetic. Bassist Larry Grenadier, also contributes “In The Nick of Time”. His performance here, as elsewhere, is one that brings out the music’s inherent drama with deft touch, while indulging Martin’s lyrical instincts to the full. Jeff Ballard’s drumming is scintillating in both its edge-of-the-seat virtuosity and sensitivity. And Rebecca Martin is, of course utterly captivating as she illuminates even the darkest corners of every song. A disc to die for.
Track List: 1: Just As In Spring; 2: To Make The Most Of Today; 3: On A Sunday Morning; 4: Thrones and Believers; 5: Later On They’ll Know; 6: When Things Like These Go Wrong; 7: Freedom Run; 8: Like Every Other Day; 9: Outside It Rains For Them; 10: In The Nick Of Time; 11: Hold On; 12: To Up and Go.
Personnel: Rebecca Martin: acoustic guitar and vocals; Guillermo Klein: piano, keyboards and vocals ; Larry Grenadier: acoustic bass; Jeff Ballard: drums and percussion.
Label: Sunnyside Records
Release date: April 2017
Running time: 50:28