Dom Martin – Spain To Italy
04 December 2019 (released)
By now I should be well past the point of being surprised or impressed by a new artist but with this album I am genuinely both surprised and VERY impressed.
This is musical magic and it comes from a delightful young man with a huge future before him.
I saw him recently playing a short acoustic support set and his talents both as a guitarist and raconteur were very impressive but here he manages to show his talents with electric as well as acoustic and with a full band on some of the tracks and it leaves me wanting to hear much more.
He tells stories, creates moods and makes you feel what he is singing about without ever being obvious or too obtuse.
Take a song such as ‘Luca’: beautifully played and with his soft, dark voice gently telling of internal strife and dark fears and then moving straight into ‘Antrim Blues’, a heavy Blues with fuzzed slide guitar and shouted vocals, it has no beauty or joy – the absolute example of a Blues.
‘Hell For You’ is a gentle Blues, again coming from a dark place with lyrics quite at odds with the way the song is being played.
The title track is almost unbearably intense, redolent with loss and very much a cry from the heart.
One of my favourites is Blind Blake’s ‘Dry Bone Rag’ – just a simple(!) rag played on a resonator with a jaunty step to it. It then leads you into ‘Dog Eat Dog’, another dark and moody piece that closes the album and has such intensity that it leaves an emptiness that means you have to cue the album up again and re-experience the whole thing.
Ten of the twelve tracks here are written by Martin ( a superb cover of Leadbelly’s ‘Out On The Western Plain and Blind Blake’s ‘Dry Bone Rage’ are the covers) and while there are definite touches of John Martyn or Rory Gallagher in his playing, they all have a stamp of originality about them – you have the feeling he is singing and playing from the heart.
This is, for me, one of the most impressive debut recordings I’ve heard in a long while.