Angela Faye Martin – Anniversary

by Nicholas C. (Environmental Studies), published February 27th 2013

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

afmIt may be because of my own Yankee upbringing, but there seems to be a unique quality to music associated with the South that is too enchanting to ignore.  The music of Angela Faye Martin is no exception.

Although faced with a particularly bad case of writer’s block after the passing of friend and mentor Mark Linkous (the enigmatic Sparklehorse maestro who produced her first record), Martin has broken through this barrier and has recorded an Americana record with modern textural timbre.

I recently spoke with Martin about how her songs take shape and the production of the record.  Regarding her songs, she charmingly explains that “they have their own destinies, and I just have to listen and I have to obey.”  Somewhat jokingly, she refers to her “muse” as something similar to a combination of Keith Richards and the dwarf shaman Mestigoit of the film Black Robe, that demands her cooperation whenever it pleases.  Given the Pentecostal tradition of snake handling and the Appalachian mysticism described by Southern Gothic authors, it doesn’t seem all that farfetched.

Everything you’d expect from a Southern songwriter’s album is there for the most part.  Tender acoustic guitars, dreamy fiddles, and the mournful whine of the pedal steel lend weight to Martin’s feather-like voice.  But I cannot name many albums of this particular ilk that rely on drum machines and punchy synthesizers quite like Anniversary.

The guitars and vocals of the album’s standout track, “Landslide,” erupt with the strength that its title suggests. Perhaps just as noteworthy is the whimsical “Lovesong for Paris.”  The lush instrumental swells and tremolo-laden chorus creates a sense of romantic urgency that illuminates the listener’s imagination.  Think of the fragile vocals of Mazzy Star set atop the dream pop of Mercury Rev.

There is certainly no shortage of singer-songwriters these days.  But what sets Angela Faye Martin’s Anniversary apart from her contemporaries is her brave use of sounds long considered unorthodox to the genre.  Anniversary is a record for those who appreciate solid songwriting, but also have a more explorative record collection.

Recommended Tracks: Lovesong for Paris, Landslide

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