CD: 11 Songs; 36:50 Minutes
Styles: Gospel, Americana
Ever since the time of Shakespeare, the nightingale has been a symbol of any bard’s craft. According to Wikipedia, “During the Romantic era the bird’s symbolism changed once more: poets viewed the nightingale not only as a poet in his own right, but as ‘master of a superior art that could inspire the human poet’.” Canada’s Samantha Martin, along with her band Delta Sugar, call for this winged muse to inspire them on their third album, Send the Nightingale. They offer eleven original songs that are far more gospel and Americana than blues. Martin sounds like a novice Bonnie Raitt at times, as on the latter diva’s “Shadow of Doubt.” Samantha’s also been compared to Mavis Staples, Sharon Jones and Tina Turner.
As she sings lead vocals and plays acoustic and resonator guitar, with her are Mikey McCallum on electric guitar, Jimmy Hill on organ, and background vocalists Sherie Marshall and Stacie Tabb. All of these musicians stomp and clap along on certain tracks, as does fellow performer Rench. Martin’s promotional materials state, “In November 2014, Toronto blues fans were introduced to Martin’s dynamic voice when she was featured in the Toronto Blues Society’s annual Women’s Blues Review at Massey Hall, followed by opening for the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama at Roy Thompson Hall.” This year she performed at the TBS’s Blues Summit and the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City. She’s certainly busy, as listeners will be once they hear the three songs on Send the Nightingale that are closest kin to the blues.
Track 04: “Don’t Shoot” – No one ever said that the road to relationship redemption was easy: “Compromise is a pastime better left to friends. The harder it becomes, the more time that I spend. Trying to fix what’s broken, trying to hold my tongue. I want this to be a good thing in the long run. Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, don’t shoot the messenger.” Such a chorus is catchier than this reviewer’s latest cold, as is the combination of Martin and McCallum’s guitar work.
Track 05: “One More Day” – The next song is the most danceable, sure to put live crowds in high spirits. “One more day to ramble, one more day to dream, one more day to love you.” Such is the life of a blues and roots musician on the road, and it’s well-encapsulated.
Track 09: “My Crown” – Our narrator resembles a slave more than a queen in this song, but she’s counting on coronation in the afterlife. “Can’t keep me down. When I’m done, I want my crown!” That’s a demand, not a request – and a refreshing one in our era of too-hard work for too little pay. The background harmonies by Marshall and Tabb surge to the foreground here.
Dear blues muse: Send the Nightingale to Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar some more!