Reviews:: Christina Martin I Can Too

It’s hard not to like Christina Martin. She’s charming, attractive, genuinely seems to appreciate her fans and the tradition that spawned her music, and she’s put in the kilometres needed to build a fan base. In an age where the internet equates to hacky demos being broadcast to thousands of people and getting to open for big bands months before they are ready, Martin still plays house shows in rural communities hoping to connect to each and every possible listener. If the general music world is full of planes, she’s a romantic, slow moving train trekking across the country one rail at a time.


But over the last few years, Martin has added a spacey, sonic chaos to her traditional alt-country stylings, and the rough edges and - said in as a compliment - sloppiness she and her band added to the mix helped the new songs pop. That’s probably why the first few listens of I Can Too fell short for me. I expected her palette to be skewed, not fine tuned and as much as I loved Two Hearts, I was hoping she’d take some risks on the follow up.


The thing is, the more I let the songs play, the more of those risks I started to hear. There are countless moments of distortion and static, it’s just that Martin and producer/steel man Dale Murray folded the new textures seamlessly into her melodies. Christina spends as much time on the electric as she does her trusty acoustic, and as you might expect from Daniel Ledwell’s stunning cover art, the songs are muscular without losing her femininity (“Picture of a Sad Man”). While Two Hearts showcased her strums and voice, I Can Too is a fleshed out effort. “Take” is a bigger sound than I’ve heard from Martin on record and “I Fear I Am” finds Martin venturing into a timeless rock vibe that tips it’s cap to Mr Roy Orbison. Even classic Martin sounding numbers like “Stole Something” and “I Can Too” use bending steel and tender piano to make them something bigger than living room confessionals or ear pleasing coffee house soundtracks.


Really, all I wanted from Martin on this release was for her to take a chance, and although I was hoping for something a bit more gritty and rough, I’d be selling her short if I said she didn’t. Instead of a noisy, bar room ready record that would be embraced and ultimately forgotten, Martin opted to go make a record that could hopefully push her career out of living rooms and into bigger venues. Instead of clutter, she opted for clarity. That precision allows her to share the spotlight with seasoned vets like Greg Keelor and Wayne Petti instead of getting lost and overshadowed. At the end of the day, while we Haligonians might love seeing Martin laugh on stage at Tribeca as the band cranks up the amp and distortion, for someone that works as hard as she does, taking the chance to connect with a bigger audience is something we can’t hold against her.


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MP3:: Christina Martin - I Can Too

This entry was posted on Friday, September 10th, 2010 at 8:52 am and is filed under 2010, Canada, Christina Martin, Halifax, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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