"I just have to find a spot," Christina Martin says while walking onto a beach in Pugwash, NS, before lunch on a Sunday morning. The singer-songwriter just arrived home from a whirlwind, week-long trip to Montreal and wanted to do this phone interview via her cell on the beach. With seagulls calling distantly in the background Martin tells me she's found her spot---and she has, both on the beach and in that larger sense.
After spending the end of 2009 and the beginnings of 2010 working on her just-released album, I Can Too---which includes guest performances by Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor and Cuff the Duke's Wayne Petti---Martin performed at the Olympics, played for Queen Elizabeth on Canada Day and, among other festivals, took part in Lockeport's Harmony Bazaar where Dale Murray, guitarist and singer for Cuff the Duke, asked her to marry him---on the beach.
"I've never been happier," says 31-year-old Martin, thinking on the past year. "I think it took a lot of work to get here. I mean, this happiness is a very recent thing."
It's something that's evident on her third album, which draws inspiration from Martin's tumultuous past. I Can Too's title track, first created years ago with Andrew Sisk and Dan Ledwell, speaks to the childhood worry of not measuring up---a feeling Martin says has haunted her throughout her life.
"Sometimes I get really excited about ideas and relationships and projects, and in the past I could get really disappointed really fast if somebody were to tell me that I couldn't do that," she says, adding it's a sting that came from people she loved.
"The song basically runs through very personal experiences where somebody told me that I couldn't do something. I remember my father telling me when I was young---he was angry---and he just exploded and called me an ungrateful bitch. ...He said that I would never have love in my life or that no man would ever put up with me."
Martin felt the effects of her late father's bipolar tendencies and love of alcohol and women when she was younger, and says she often thinks through the past to try and understand a family "where addictions, where substance abuse, hardcore drug use and mental health issues were real."
Martin's very close to her older brother, who is living with mental health issues including bipolar disorder, depression and addictions, and says she's very aware of her own desires "to spend, drink, do drugs, be promiscuous." Today, those desires don't outweigh her want for a happy and fulfilling life ---a healthy mindset that finds her on a Pugwash beach very close to her home with Murray. And when people ask her why her songs are "so sad," Martin puts on a smile and says: "It all comes from a place of pain."
Today, the self-managed Martin knows she can make it. After nine years of playing whenever she could, Martin quit everything and committed full-time to her music career. Over the past two years, she's won two Nova Scotia Music Awards, an ECMA and is releasing her third album through a distribution partnership with EMI---a step she took to get I Can Too out to more people, more places.
"I know I can do it, I'm willing to do it. I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can, as long as people will listen to me---even if they won't listen to me, that would be fine," Martin says, laughing.