Checking in with Martin Sexton some 20 years after he sold his first self released cassette tape on the streets of Harvard Square, and 8 albums later, he can be found in a good place, his voice still spanning multiple octaves, his guitar a one man band, at once lead, rhythm, and percussion.
In a new five song EP, just released, he showcases a collection of songs that couldn’t wait for a full album of material to be released. "These songs are relevant today and I didn’t want to wait to release a full-length album," Sexton explained. "And in a down economy, we’re getting new music to people for the price of a soy latte."
Divided between songs of contentment and songs of a more topical bent, they give a picture of a man content with his place, but still searching for answers. In an interesting remake of the 60’s Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth” – Sexton takes the stridency and anger from the original and replaces it with a bluesy sort of jazz scat treatment. This playfulness serves not only to undermine the importance of the message, but instead to offer it in a way perhaps fitting to the more sedate Occupy Movement than the “battle lines” of the 60’s, thereby offering the possibility of solution rather than division.
“One Voice Together” can be seen as a progression from the divisiveness of the Springfield song, a way out of the impasse, voices blending together instead of drowning each other out. It comes at the same time as other recent calls for unity like John Wesley Harding’s “Sing Your Own Song” and Willie Nile’s “One Guitar”.
Offsetting the political tone of those two are three which show a more private contentment and personal search, a sense that he has found his place, the delightful “Happy Anniversary (Six Years)”, singing “Let’s stay in bed and play all day, I can’t think of a better way” and “Fall Like Rain” with the Dylanesque lines “I wanna fall like rain…..so I can feel which way the wind blows”
“Burlington” recalls James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” in depicting a journey through New England in a snowy winter, “The barns are cavin’ in, their old red paint is fadin’, they lean into the wind in silence. Sexton is the master of the multi-octave voice range. A true blue-eyed soul singer, Rolling Stone refers to his “soul-marinated voice”, he can be both Righteous Brothers at once, and an echo of Sam Cooke.