Monday, October 20, 2014

REVIEW: Mark Martyre - Red Letters

Eight tracks of poetic folk and Americana (or is it Canadiana?) comprise Red Letters, the new album from Toronto poet and singer songwriter Mark Martyre.  The themes are personal and reflective and the tone is warm.  The minimal instrumental accompaniment of guitar, bass, violin, piano and, at times, accordion allows focus to center on the true stars of the songs, Mark's words, and his gravelly voice.  Most of the tracks are downtempo, but Mark ups the pace for personal favorite "I Wasn't Born to Lose You" and the piano romp of "My Baby's Gone A Flyin'".

My personal reaction to Martyre's album is that, at its most basic level, it is about textures.  Certainly and most obviously, those textures include layers of various instruments and Mark's voice.  But the most lasting impact is the emotional textures created by Mark's words, aided by his inflection, and use of space and timing to underscore the emotions.  True artistry is the ability to use restraint to emphasize the depth of feeling, and that ability is quietly loud on Red Letters.

Red Letters was released on October 14, and is available as a digital download or CD at the Bandcamp link below.


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