Jeffrey Martin is a songwriter’s songwriter, the kind who turns the heads of his peers with his painfully honest and emotionally powerful lyrics. Writing was always close to Martin, who resides in Portland, Oregon these days. It was what he studied and it was how he made a living as a high school English teacher. Then one day he realized that perhaps songwriting was his true calling and it was time to give the life of a traveling musician a go. Since then Martin has been on the road almost constantly, playing his heartfelt folk to anyone who will listen.
On October 13th Jeffrey Martin will release his new album One Go Around on Portland label Fluff & Gravy Records. The album finds the songwriter drawing inspiration from an intense whirlwind of activity in his life, as he balanced full-time work as a high-school creative writing teacher with a touring schedule that saw him flying out for gigs on the weekend and grading papers on the plane home. The stories he heard from his students when he was teaching and the stories he gathered on the road have stayed with him. These are stories of an America left behind, of working-class people struggling to keep their heads above rising waters, of people trying to find love in a time of heartlessness. His students plumbed the depths of their own lives to learn how to write, and the intimacy of the connection they and their families had with a beloved teacher in a rural Oregon (a small town of 5,000+ people) brought the stories home hard for Martin.
At the time, Martin was immersing himself as well in American literature, in the books and short stories he was teaching to his students or reading on the road, like Raymond Carver, Annie Proulx, and John Steinbeck. On One Go Around, Martin weaves songcraft and poetry in a hyper literate way of telling stories. His music is often sparse with little more than an acoustic guitar, and that’s all he needs most of the time as his lyrical tales speak for themselves. At the same time, One Go Around may be his most textured album to date, with subtle but effective instrumentation from a cello, banjo, electric and steel guitar, and rich vocal harmonies interspersed throughout the songs that signal Martin is embracing a richer Americana sound.
Harkening back to the folk singers of the fifties and sixties, Martin often use his platform to touch on social issues. Such is the case with his song “Poor Man”, which we are excited to premiere on Glide today. The song is an emotional rollercoaster as it tackles the social consequences that come from being poor, with Martin bringing his folk sensibilities and his power as a storyteller together with expanded instrumentation. His direct style of songwriting is reminiscent at times of artists like Jason Isbell and John Prine, and with this song it’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of what Martin could do onstage with a full band.
Reflecting on the inspiration behind “Poor Man”, Martin has this to say:
“Certain voices in our culture tout the false mantra that poor people are essentially lazy people, and are therefore bad. I wanted to tell a story that captured the true situation of many people; of a man who is working hard and still can’t catch a break, and can feel the waters rising around him and his family.”
Jeffrey Martin will release One Go Around October 13th on Fluff & Gravy Records. For more music and info visit jeffreymartinmusic.com.
10/11 Green Frog Bellingham WA
10/13 Spoiled Dog Winery, Whidbey Island, WA
10/14 Wildwood Hotel WIllamina, OR
10/17 Vintage Wine Redding, CA
10/19 Lille Aeske Boulder Creek, CA
10/21 Bonnydoon, CA (public barn show)
10/22 HopMonk Tavern Novato Opening for Ramblin’ Jack Elliot (San Fran, CA)
10/24 The Old Stone Bend, OR
10/27 Alberta St. Pub Portland, OR
10/28 Tsunami Books Eugene, OR