Swirling in the glass

My first impression was that Martin is simply the latest nuevo torch singer to wander along. I hadn't heard her earlier albums, something I have since rectified. Those albums gave a hint as to what Martin can really do, but this set really pulls it all together.

Daphne Lee Martin
Fall On Your Sword
(Telegraph Recording Company)
Pulling together by coming apart, of course. Martin infuses her music with as many different sounds and ideas as possible. She produced this album herself, and put her vocals front and center in both the arrangements and the mix. That's a smart idea; on an album this wildly diverse there should be a unifying element. Martin's voice is perfectly suited for that showcase.

As solid as her vocal work is, it is her songwriting and arranging that really shines. It's clear that these pieces were assembled in the studio, but the results are spangled glory. Each song is like a fruit basket tied up in the bow of her voice.

In other words, don't expect perfect coherence. Martin glories in a bit of chaos, and she's not above throwing a little funk into some 70s electric piano pop, sprinkling in some samples and then shooting the whole mess down a jazz hole.

Far from a hot mess, this bouillabaisse produces a perfect brio. Martin exposes her innermost thoughts while she tells tales (most of the songs are based on fables of one sort or another), and they wash over us in a most lovely way. A welcome sensory overload.

Jon Worley

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