on 14 May 2004
I am a long time fan. Over the last 15-20 years, Martyn's releases have been patchy compared to his 70's and early 80's output. The past year has been a tough one for him personally - his amputation came as a shock. It is not clear whether the music was recorded before this or since.
The warmth and quality of the recording is a wonder. His voice continues to astound though it is an acquired taste (some of my friends can not understand what John Martyn is all about). His high profile collaborators are of varying success. To me it is his more long term cohorts who shine including Spencer Cozens, Danny Thompson, John Giblin, Andy Shepherd amongst others. The songs are consistently strong. In particular the trio in the middle blew me away - Back to Marseilles, Cobbles and the 'tour de Force' called My Creator (amazing stuff).
This recording is a worthy addition to my collection - I look forward to spending a lot of time with it. I expect my enjoyment to grow over time as with other Martyn releases. Give it a go - it may be different to a lot that is released these days, but it sure is worth the wait.
on 3 May 2004
Admirers of Martyn's so-called 'classic' 70's output who don't care much for his subsequent electric/band excursions [and thereby miss out on some great music] really should check this one out. Martyn's albums are usually so different in their landscape that saying one is better or worse than the other is comparing apples and oranges- but the music here is more acoustic than anything he's recorded in nearly thirty years, and several new tracks bear the feel and flavour of albums like Inside Out and Sunday's Child. John's vocals are richer and more expressive than ever, and there's songwriting on this album that stands with his best work. Go Down Easy borrows a title and some lyrics from the Solid Air track but nothing else. Paul Weller, Nick McCabe and Mavis Staples guest.
The fire still burns. Without a doubt.
on 7 May 2004
It is amazing that a man who has wriiten so many brilliant songs remains relatively unknown. This his 22nd album is up there with his very best. The diversity of sound from the jazz influenced sounds of My Creator and Go Down Easy (both of which could have come from the Soild Air era) to a simple folk song 'One for the Road', which wouldn't have been out of place on Sundays Child and the gospel sounding Goodnight Irene. Also not forgetting Walking Home and Under my Wing. If you have never heard John Martyn before this is the place to start.
on 8 May 2004
Make no mistakes, this is good. Good seems an inadequate word in the circumstances. John's scitzophrenic voice is like drinking armanac out of a broken bottle. His songs are dreams, woven yin & yang, the ice-cream man meets the bogeyman. A long way from London Conversation, but aren't we all!
on 24 July 2004
John Martyn, with every album, perfects sounding like himself. I don't mean to be cryptic with such statement but, rather, to pay the man a complement and vow my respect for his craft.
Whether it is bluesy "get down" like "Baby Come Home" or some delightful Pop-Folk like "under The Wind" -backed by Paul Weller- John Martyn's voice is the welcomed sound of a man at peace with himself, at least as far as his musical identity is concerned.
Specially, upon the loss of his leg to some ungodly cyst, it is wonderful to hear that he's back in the studio, still delivering quality, soulful material.
There may not be many surprises here, no experimenting with new forms, yet the songs will not disappoint anyone who knows what the man has done. I consider this album a joyful assertion of a style honed over thirty-plus years of worshipping his own musical gods. "Cobbles" and "Ghosts" are great examples of this.
Then, there are probably "the" songs of this CD, "My Creator," as far as amalgating the essential elements of Martyn's sound. Jazzy horns, Danny Thompson masterful bass, and that voice that, once you heard once, it is hard to live without. And "Go Down Easy" where syllables are suspended over the sinuous rhythm base, in a unforgettable way.
To finish things off, he gives a very respectable version of "Goodnight Irene," sharing vocal with the great Mavis Staples.
As you might have already ascertained, John Martyn is one of those people who I admired profoundly, which is not to say that I think that this album is a classic. That, it is not, yet it can belong to anyone's collection, without any apologies being necessary.
on 27 May 2013
From the heavily Scots accented count in at the beginning of the album, to the superb emotional duet with Mavis Staples, this includes all the great JM trademarks; humour, emotion; gruffness; tenderness; smoke; whiskey.... as another writer said, great late night music. Witness the sublime jazzy sax driven'My Creator' and the fabulous acoustic groove of 'One for the Road' This is the Sound of John taking his time, 'going down easy' to make one of the most sublime 'songwriter albums of this Millenium. Unlike the patchy work of recent 'craftsmen' Neil Young and Bob Dylan, this is flawless. Great songs, great playing, great album. Strangely John never played much of this live, and having spoken with his Bass player, Alan Thompson, who siad that he thought this wasn't one of John's favourite albums...Can't think why!! For me it is easily on a par with his greatest work, Solid Air and One World!