Rebecca Martin's sixth release under her own name and her third for the Sunnyside label, the warmly intimate set offers a uniquely expressive showcase for Martin's artistry, with a dozen resonant new original compositions and one classic interpretation, all performed in understated acoustic arrangements based around the artist's indelible voice and supple guitar work and the subtly inventive support of her husband and longtime collaborator, noted jazz bassist Larry Grenadier.
All Music Guide
Rebecca Martin Martin may not have the kind of majestic contralto that the great Abbey Lincoln was blest with; she may not sound like the cumulonimbus sprite that Joni Mitchell does, or did, but she is every bit as impossible to resist. In fact Ms. Martin is every bit the poet and musician as both Ms. Lincoln and Ms. Mitchell are and she will always be one as this fine record Twain shows. The music here goes to the heart and soul of human feelings and emotions. But it is one thing to write this kind of material, exposing grief and choking back tears; see-sawing between the ecstasy of pain and joy. For Ms. Martin sings of a feeling that is extremely hard to express. The pain felt in the nerves is a curious thing indeed. Its intensity is great and crushing; much greater than the physical aspect of that feeling. It has been exquisitely captured by The Scream, a fine painting by Edvard Munch, and in the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca. It is what Mr. Garcia Lorca called duende, or what in the Flamenco may be experienced and sung or written about as an ecstatic feeling in the soul. In a sense Rebecca Martin may be of a school unto herself; the closest she might come to Americana would be such as the works of Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, W. D. Snodgrass and Allen Ginsburg. Twain is Ms. Martin's Ariel; her Heart's Needle, her Dream Songs.
Ms. Martin sings of hearts and minds entwined once as in "To Up And Go"; of bodies parting from the warmth of each other in the morning as in "God Is In The Details" and of the entranced state of being in "Beholden." Her understanding of that which sometimes unmentionable is as magical as the feeling itself. Few artists have been able to capture those emotions-perhaps only Ms. Lincoln and Ms. Mitchell-in the sound and fury of song and silence. Like those two artists Rebecca Martin re-creates the emotion in the spare and concrete imagery of her poems, which become the lyrics of her songs. Words become part of the image; and images become the phrases in her singular lexicon of music. These are sung as if they are breaths that come from somewhere much deeper than the bottom of her lungs; indeed they leap from the very bottom of her soul. Her lines are elliptical; these carve the air in great arcs ignited by the white heat of the emotions they carry with them. A memorable example of this is her take on "Sophisticated Lady." In "On The Rooftop" she does something similar; this time both the lyric and the emotions are her own.