"I'd known for awhile I'd wanted to make a change," says Christina Martin. "I felt stuck. I guess I was just bored." With four records of sharp, heartfelt folk behind her, Martin is aiming for a different vibe on It'll Be Alright—literally, a vibe, a keys-and-licks classic rock groove permeating the 10 tracks produced at Joel Plaskett's Dartmouth studio, The New Scotland Yard, and at their home by Martin's husband and guitarist, Dale Murray.
"There was so much desire for Dale and I—because we toured on our own so much, because we had to—we wanted that thing that you get when you play with a group of other people," says a tired Martin after a full day of rehearsals for her release show February 21 at the Spatz Theatre.
The rock band approach is about all about growth: "Bigger shows, bigger stages, we want the audience to wanna come out and buy a ticket. Otherwise we're wasting our time," she says, chuckling. "We've gotta try. If we fail, whatever, but otherwise I don't need to keep doing this. Oftentimes as a solo performer—which is how people view me because it's my name—you hire people when you need to, maybe people don't feel as connected to a project when it is all about that artist. It's about reaching out and making a connection from my musicians to the audience."
"Connection" is a recurring theme throughout the half-hour conversation, though lyrically Martin's always stayed close to universal themes anyway, chiefly related to the heart. On It'll Be Alright, with its songs called things like "You Ran From Me," "I've Got A Gun" and "Reaching Out," there are pumping keyboard lines, jangling guitars, backup singers going oh-oh-oh and driving beats supporting her typically strong, throaty vocals.
"Vocally I wasn't trying to sound like anybody but myself, but for It'll Be Alright I had Roy Orbison in my heart, singing over my shoulder," says Martin. "I always wanted to be that kind of a singer who could emote, connect." There's that word again. "Roy Orbison, Annie Lennox, Tina Turner, Tom Petty even—he doesn't have the voice necessarily but he has clear, strong messages. I wanna know what this person is trying to get across to me."
Some of the songs are years old, discarded for one reason or another and resurrected in this new vision, bounced to analogue tape before mastering and soon to be available on vinyl. The full experience. "They all had to fit this record," says Martin. "We approached this as 'someone's going to sit down and listen to this,' not a bunch of random singles. We want people to put this on and listen to it in its entirety."
Christina Martin w/Leith Fleming-Smith
Saturday, February 21 at 8pm
Spatz Theatre, 1655 Trollope Street