Eddie Martin – Thirst
11 tracks; 57 minutes
Eddie Martin has been a constant on the UK blues scene for many years and has released a steady output of albums, this being his 12th studio album, recorded on home turf in Bristol. Over the years Eddie has demonstrated an eclectic approach, recording solo acoustic, trio and big band albums. Thirst is a full electric band with Eddie on guitar, harp and vocals, showing fine songwriting craft on an all-original program and is well supported by the cast of musicians: Dan Moore or Yuki Yoshizu are on piano, Jonny Henderson (who is Kirk Fletcher’s go-to keyboard man in Europe) on Hammond B3, Tom Gilkes on drums, either Jerry Soffe or Zac Raynard on bass and backing vocalists Audra Nishita and Nadine Gingell.
The album is well packaged with a full lyric sheet and details of who played on each track, the only issue being that two tracks appear in a different order to the printed material. Opening track “One Man Band” was issued as a single and you can hear why as it’s got an uptempo boogie feel as Eddie describes life on the road for a solo artist. Because the vocals are dubbed over Eddie’s harp/slide work it is not always easy to grasp the lyrics, an issue that reappears on two other cuts where a similar technique is used. Piano underpins the slide on “Sewn Up” as Eddie looks at how we see ourselves, the futility of always wanting to be other than we actually are: “Narcissus could teach us a thing or two. His selfies on the surface of a pool, the end is more tragic than magical”.
Brooding slide/harp and a semi-spoken vocal recount the interesting story (real or imagined?) of a chance encounter with a veteran in “Free Man Blues”. Choppy wah-wah softened by warm Hammond underpins “Searching For Home”, a well written song which empathizes with those caught up in the refugee crisis in Europe.
The centerpiece of the album is a longer song running to eight minutes as Eddie uses the metaphor of love being “Like Water”. Eddie plays some lovely guitar, dubbing slide over his lead work and Jonny again providing lush support on the B3. After that a little light relief with “Run River Run”, lots of meaty slide on a tune that recalls Bobby Parker’s “Watch Your Step” while the river runs to the sea before Eddie’s tribute to Mahalia Jackson, “Louisiana Woman” which has a strong NO feel, especially from the rhythm section. Another longer cut “Imagine Us From The Sky” then examines how birds see the world and features lots of slow, elegiac slide before Eddie rails against the unfairness of poverty, asking where the “Silver Spoon” was when he was born, the song being a suitably aggressive shuffle. “Fix It” is another upbeat song with Eddie blowing some aggressive harp before the album closes with a slow, rather lugubrious, rumba with lots of twangy guitar, rather out of keeping with the rest of the album. However, you really need to concentrate on Eddie’s superbly crafted lyrics describing a “Frozen Lake”: “Sharp mid-morning has no tale to tell, the frozen sun is like a funeral bell; you can almost hear its sullen tone while fish are underneath entombed”. This is poetry set to music!
The album title refers to Eddie’s strong desire to continue writing songs and there are several here of which he can justifiably be proud – and much of the music is actually blues!