I know I often go on about buying music from the artist’s website whenever possible; and I offer no apologies for doing it again as it gives more money to our favoured performers to enable them to make yet more great music. More often than not, you can also get bonuses that the poor paying download, streaming, and tax-evading sites do not offer those artists. Take the wonderful bluesman, Eddie Martin…I still proudly display the genuinely signed card with Eddie’s own sketch of his beloved resonator guitar taken from the actual artwork when I bought the brilliant Folk And Blues album back in 2011. So do yourself and the artist a favour and buy direct!
Back to Eddie, and he has recently released his twelfth studio album and this one is in his full band format (his releases and performances vary from one-man band, big band and blues-rock trio…get ‘em all!) as Thirst delivers eleven tracks and an hours worth of blues, rock, funk country and umpteen dance floor inspired rhythms.
The opening track, One Man Band, isn’t Eddie in that form; it started life as a potential for his solo act but morphed Into a full band ‘tribute’ to Richard Johnston the famed Memphis one-man-band. It does show how well EM’s skills on guitar, harp and vocal come together as the raucous riff leads into a sublime slice of southern flavoured blues-rock…the double tracked guitars (especially the slide) make this irresistible. Sewn Up has bluesey slide, harp and piano behind clever percussion that fits just right as he takes a tongue in cheek swipe at cosmetic surgery. The ingenious slide begs to be given a long solo…well, it does if you’re a fan of such skill and tone as I am. Free Man Blues is more serious in content as the slow blues slide guitar deliciously introduces homeless ex-soldiers take on life. The guitar throughout is just a delight and needs close listening to fully appreciate the nuances; the short solo is sublime in its use of few notes to speak volumes, and the ‘ghost notes’ says just as much. Searching For Home changes tack and brings some funky wah’d guitar into the mix…not quite Shaft, more of an imaginative blend of that feel with a weightier blues backing courtesy of some nice Hammond and the more traditional guitar phrasing at the bridge with a class piece of wah’d soling to lift out of the alley it was heading down. Next is the eight minutes of slow, pure blues of Like Water…it’s a complex ballad that opens with an homage to the great Keith Richards as EM utilises that, to me, impossible to play but gorgeous sounding, twelve-string acoustic…and his dextrous use of it puts it up there with Gallagher’s Unmilitary Two-Step as the best twelve-string sections on record. Then he brings in electric slide with Hammond to build the perfect background to some simply beautiful lyrics. The solos from the slide are worth the entrance fee on their own. Staying with the water motif, we get Run River Run, but this more upbeat song has a riff that will have you have you searching the memory cells (hint…Billy Boy Arnold via Yardbirds, Canned Heat, Bowie etc.) before it evolves a life of it’s own with great slide passages and a spectacular solo (the descending phrasing also had my two Westies listening very closely…even my dogs have taste!). Louisiana Woman is about the ‘Queen of Gospel’, Mahalia Jackson and I rather think she would approve of the blues with gospel tinges in this lovely track that EM still manages to fit slide phrases and a hugely inventive, multi-tracked slide solo into. Imagine Us From The Sky suggest that the mess mankind is making may just be changed if only we took a fresh look…” there’s no borders, to the birds up there as they fly, imagine us from the sky.” A serious message backed with subtle backing from slide and Hammond that has so much to enjoy that you must really listen to appreciate it all…then another wah’d slide solo that sends shivers as it speaks for the birds in the lyrics.
Humour reappears in EM’s paean to granulated sugar…Silver Spoon isn’t really about that particular brand (others are available!) it is a great blues shuffle about being born without the aforementioned spoon. The wah’d guitar backs the lyrics and then a slow solo that justifies judicious pedal use as he makes the guitar speak. Fix It is another guitar/harp harmony riff that with great percussion brings the blues bang up to date while keeping the authentic 30s feel…listen out for the acoustic slide in the background and sit back and wonder. The final track, Frozen Lake, is nigh on seven minutes of clever percussion and guitar that brings some of Ry Cooder’s work to mind particularly his Boomer’s Story era work. In saying that, it is still all Eddie and his tremolo and deliberately ‘off-key’ playing is pure genius. It’s a slow, detail filled number that takes a couple of listens to get deep into…apart from the instantly excellent slide incursions and the way too short solo.
You may have guessed by now that I love this album and, if you love your blues guitar-led, then you will love it too…give it a listen and you will soon agree.
Bluesdoodles rating: Stupendous – definitely an album for your must-listen collection
- One Man Band
- Sewn Up
- Free Man Blues
- Searching For Home
- Like Water
- Run River Run
- Louisiana Woman
- Imagine Us From The Sky
- Silver Spoon
- Fix It
- Frozen Lake
Eddie Martin: guitar, harmonica, vocals
Tom Gilkes: drums
Jerry Soffe: bass
Jonny Henderson: Hammond B3
Dan Moore: Fender Rhodes piano
Yuki Yoshizu: grand piano
Audra Nishita, Nadine Gingell: backing vocals
(The iTunes run on track was more Eddie…this time the Eddie Martin Band with Funky Guitar Man from Contrary Mary. Moving past EM brought the great Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater back to mind as the instrumental guitar tones of Blues At Theresa’s flowed out of the speakers.)