It is a rare thing these days to find a musician whose guitar prowess is matched easily by the exquisite tone of her spellbinding voice – and it is even more scarce to discover that same person to be a songwriter the equal of anyone treading the boards of the acoustic circuit today. In Carrie Martin, that triumvirate of gifts come together beautifully, as her new album Entity ably demonstrates.
The story of Hull-born singer/songwriter Carrie is truly an inspiring one. Having had a brief time playing locally, and fronting a rock band or two, back in the 1980s, she put away her guitar and musical aspirations when the realities of work, married life and motherhood came along – and for decades those aspirations stayed in the attic along with the guitar. A meeting with acclaimed guitarist Gordon Giltrap one night, however, changed all that, as he saw the latent talent in her still-rusty fingers, and became a ‘mentor’ of sorts’.
Carrie: ‘I met Gordon by chance. A support act dropped out and I was going to the concert on the night, and I got asked if I would do a couple of songs, and I’d not played on stage for 20 years. I’d only recently got the guitar out, been dabbling with it, gone back for a few lessons’. She got talking with Gordon, when he heard her playing… ‘He said, ‘Carrie, I’ve got to do an interview; just stay right there, I’m coming back.’ He came back, got his guitar out and said, ‘Tell you what we’ll do, we’ll gig this song tonight, together.’ This was the Cyndi Lauper song Time After Time…’
Since those days Carrie Martin has become a familiar name in singer-songwriter circles way beyond the confines of her native Yorkshire, and her last album, Seductive Sky, drew critical praise across the board, bringing her a new level of success. In the two and a half years since that album’s release, she has been honing her skills, and playing further and further afield, and the result is this exquisite new album.
The album ENTITY, available now via Psychotron Records, takes the template of Seductive Sky and adds a new layer of sophistication to it. While that album used ‘full band’ instrumentation in selected places, those arrangements were markedly less developed and rich compared to Entity, which achieves a perfect blend between the occasional ethereal gossamer-like songs featuring her alone with the acoustic guitar, through sympathetic bass, drums and keyboard arrangements, with even ex-Bad Company man Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell contributing distinctive electric guitar on the songs Talk In Colours and Waterfall. Oliver Wakeman contributes some beautiful piano accompaniment on Those Words, while Gordon Giltrap naturally chips in with additional guitar on two of the album’s tracks.
Perhaps bringing things full circle back to that initial meeting with Gordon, the album closes with the pair giving their newly recorded rendition of that first onstage collaboration, Time After Time.
The name of Carrie Martin may still be almost a closely guarded secret among her followers, but the rate at which that following is growing indicates that it won’t be long before her name is on the lips of mainstream listeners. Just take a listen to Entity. You’ll know.