Lee Martin – Gypsy Soul (AAA): Album Review

Lee Martin makes her debut as a Kiwi artist with Gypsy Soul, a unique blend of her South African, American and Kiwi influences.

When asked to describe her song (see the 13th Floor Interview here) Lee claims Motown r&b, South African gospel and Kiwi Americana as her influences.

With respect, I beg to differ.

Instead of Motown…I suggest she is more likely to be associated with Memphis, Nashville and Muscle Shoals, with a healthy input of Chicago blues. Think Dusty In Memphis with a blues vamp.

Lee MartinGeography notwithstanding, when all is said and done, the question is, how do you feel about the artist’s voice and are the songs any good?

Fortunately Lee possesses a beautiful voice that is powerful when called upon, yet soulful always.

Finally Going My Way, the set’s opening track, is a perfect vehicle for Martin’s strength both as a songwriter and a vocalist. It’s a soul song, with hints of fifties r&b and a dollop of blues guitar.

Guitar duties are handled by Chris Ward, who also co-produced the album with TeMatera Smith (who also owns AAA Records). You’ll also find Marika Hodgson on bass, Adam Tobeck behind the drums and Forrest Thorp on keys and trumpet. Additionally, a quartet of South Africa gospel singers fills out the sound, with Tracy-Lee Oliver bursting in to Amazing Grace during Daydreaming.

The album lays down a smooth, soulful groove over its dozen tracks with highlights including the bluesy shuffle of Sick Of You Being Sick Of Me and the soulful Brave Train, featuring Forrest’s feisty trumpet.

Lee MartinIf there any flaws to be found, it might be the track listing…the three trumpet-prominent tracks are grouped together near the end of the record, giving the impression that the trumpet player showed up late for the session!

Obviously that is not the case….and in fact, the sound captured at Redroom Studio, located just north of Auckland, is warm and inviting.

The album picks up steam with the final two tracks…the bouncy, “angry” grudge song, New Year’s Eve, followed by the inspirational, What If I Die.

Lee Martin has been in New Zealand for a decade now and it’s our privilege to finally hear her Gypsy Soul.

Marty Duda

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