Some of you will already know that Dom Martin is a Belfast born multi-award-winning artist who, in 2019, first burst onto the music scene with a unique guitar style and voice, captivating audiences everywhere. BBC Radio 2 Blues Show presenter Cerys Matthews described his work as “Absolutely wonderful stuff.” Dom has made a meteoric rise in popularity in terms of today’s music industry. His jaw-dropping, entirely natural sounding and unforced, unschooled skill on acoustic guitar, matched with an authentic Belfast blues voice, constantly draws comparisons to the likes of John Martyn and Van Morrison – and, inevitably, to Rory Gallagher.
Dom is equally adept on electric performances with his power trio, having won the UK Blues Awards’ “Best Instrumentalist Award” in 2022 and 2023. The trio is always an extremely popular addition to any blue rock festival. What’s more, Dom always likes to perform a Rory Gallagher song during his live shows, as he is strives to keep Rory’s music alive for a new generation. Dom Martin continues to display his all-around ability with strong song writing, technical freestyle guitar playing, an incredible live show stage presence and accompanied by an all too rare strong male vocal.
Dom’s new album Buried in the Hail follows three previous highly acclaimed releases; Spain to Italy (2019), Live at the Harlington (2021) and A Savage Life (2022). It was recorded at Golden Egg Studios in Ireland and produced in Dublin by Grammy-Nominated producers Chris O’Brien and Graham Murphy and co-produced by Dom Martin. Very much steeped in the Roots, Americana, and the Blues genres, many of the tracks on the new album possess an almost cinematic theme.
Dom reckons the new album is the first complete work that he’s recorded which he is 100% happy with and proud to release – he says that it’s the kind of album where the more you listen to it, the more you will get out of it. And I can certainly vouch for that!
The album opens with Hello In There, a seemingly gentle acoustic picker, a subtle calm before the storm of some of the later emotions. It has children laughing in the background, Dom describes these as one of the most beautiful sounds in the world and it kinda reflects on the introspective mood of the album. Daylight I Will Find is classic foot-tapping blues with almost obligatory slide work and a bit of a rhythm section adding homespun beat. These songs are so naturally formed and performed you almost overlook the sheer, shimmering, brilliance of Dom’s playing. Sweet and simple. The repeated chorus line talks about “the long road to ruin” which may or may not be an intentional nod to John Martyn but at times on this album the similarities are so strong – vocally at least.
On a similar rheme, Government simply oozes the spirit of Richard Thompson, which is about as big a complement as you can get! That voice, dextrous minor-chord guitar work and a sparse back-beat, my word it’s uncanny! Dom’s voice on this is so smooth and steady on some quite sustained lines, simply wonderful. It’s actually a lament for the political state of the world, although Dom makes the point he’s not on any one side, he simply believes in what is right…Dom Martin for Prime Minister, anyone? The song also has a sort of Celtic feel to the melancholic melody.
Belfast Blues evokes the spirit of the people and the place, Dom being a Belfast boy himself. In a previous life it seems he was quite a rowdy sort and this song tries to describe – and perhaps exorcise – those times.
Crazy is a cover of a Willie Nelson song. Dom usually has at least one cover on his albums, and I for this one he specifically wanted something he something he could relate to, which in this case was a broken heart. And you can feel the raw emotion bleeding out of your speakers. Hopefully our man is over the worst of things, otherwise he could be seriously unhinged….
which aptly is the name of the next track, being unhinged by society at large and experiencing the falseness in people who greet you with smiles and leave you with nothing. Sumptuous fuzz guitar lines add to the density of this one. Turns out that when Dom was recording this, his amp was overheating to the point of being ready to explode – kinda puts a spark into one’s playing! Dom plays a Gibson 339 with what he describes as “mystery pickups” on this one.
The Fall continues that mood of trying to avert global disintegration. Despite everything, Dom still has tons of hope for our collective future, lets hope he’s right….On this one he’s again singing like some amazing blend of Richard Thompson and John Martyn, and playing some neat licks. Sends shivers down my spine.
Howlin’ is a straight blues homage to Mr Wolf. Fuzzed guitar, and the voice of a 60 year-old bluesman! The title track Buried In The Hail continues that same fuzzy, blurred style of blues picking. This one gets a bit dark, definitely edgy at times, the mood of the song reflecting the raw situations Dom’s been through. Its pure emotion. Lefty 2 Guns continues in the same heartfelt vein, it’s built around an absolutely stellar guitar line / extended solo man, again fuzzy and raw, a great sound.
Laid To Rest has an unnervingly clear, crisp production and, like the first track is a short instrumental – the two acting as intro and outro. You get the feeling that this simple strum and acoustic wrap sort of symbolically closes the set, puta a lid on the emotions and moves on.
So this is his third full-length studio album, and easily the best and for me the most accessible, which seems kinda strange given it’s also highly personal and heartfelt. Dom’s Voice is better than ever – I’ve been trying to come up with a suitable analogy and the best I can manage is “honeyed gravel” – he can growl with the best of them but I adore his softer moments.
All Songs composed by Dom Martin except Crazy (Willie Nelson)
Dom Martin – Vocals, Guitar
Ben Graham – Bass Guitar & Double Bass
Jonny McIlroy – Drums
Recorded in Golden Egg Studios, Ireland
Mixed and produced by Chris O’Brien and Graham Murphy at The Production Suite, Dublin, Ireland
Co-Produced by Dom Martin
Mastered by Richard Dowling at WAV Mastering, Limerick, Ireland
Artwork Concept – Dom Martin
Album Artwork – Magic Cabin Studios