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Eddie Martin - Folk & Blues

Blueblood Records

12 tracks/44:40

Recent years have seen an explosion in the number of new releases that claim to fit in the blues genre. Much of the increase comes from artists outside America, a testament to the worldwide appeal of blues music. The challenge for these “foreign” musicians is how to grab the attention of US listeners in the crowded marketplace.

Eddie Martin has more than ten previous recordings and has also won numerous English blues music awards. Yet this reviewer was unaware of his existence until receiving his latest release. Martin is an accomplished electric guitar player but this is an all-acoustic project featuring him as a one-man band. He employs a variety of guitars as well as a bass drum, foot percussion and harmonica to flesh out his original material. Martin sings with a smooth, expressive voice that gently grabs your attention throughout the disc.

Two instrumental tracks highlight Martin’s skill as a guitarist. “Butterflies” finds him laying down intricate fingerpicked notes over a strong bass line. On “Old London Blues”. Martin’s playing invokes comparisons to the Doc Watson style. A third number, “Still Chasing the Fox”, is a live recording of Martin on harmonica playing in the “whooping” style popularized by Sonny Terry.

Other highlights include “Kind Lady Moon”, which mixes an insistent boogie beat with an old English folk legend that tells the tale of how man rescued the moonlight from the clutches of the Devil. “Let It Slide” features Martin’s slashing slide guitar licks and hard-edged vocal. A night on Bourbon Street in New Orleans provided Martin with the storyline for “Underwater Woman” as he describes the captivating charms of a woman who ultimately leaves alone, feeling foolish.

“Canada” finds Martin longing for a lover who has fled the country while “I’ll Find My Way” finds him exploring the place where blues and spirituals meet. There is a strong folk element on “Month Of Mondays”, which utilizes a boss-nova type rhythm. Martin employs all the elements of his one-man band on the opening track, “Flowers to the Desert” while the brooding “Clouds Across the Sky” features another strong vocal performance.

There is plenty to enjoy here, especially for listeners who are partial to acoustic blues. Martin consistently delivers performances that celebrate the blues tradition from his personal perspective, avoiding the trap of doing yet another cover of a classic tune. Hearing this disc made me want to check out his prior releases, which may be the best praise any reviewer can offer.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.

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