Martyn Joseph - Being There

Wednesday 1st July 1992
Martyn Joseph - Being There
Martyn Joseph - Being There

STYLE: Roots/Acoustic
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Epic 471820

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

Epic 471820 LP/Cass/CD Mains (CBS) The metamorphosis, at least as far as marketing goes, is now complete. From enculturalised hero of evangelicalism (those early Ears And Eyes albums were pretty bad weren't they?) to sensitive singer/songwriter with songs piquant enough to catch the ear of the masses out there in Radioland, ol' Martyn has travelled a long road. As we go to press, it seems that Sony/CBS's belief in Cardiff's finest is going to pay off, Martyn's haunting new version of his much loved "Dolphins Make Me Cry" beginning to climb the pop charts., even though overtly gospel lyrics have been conveniently removed. And what of the rest of the album? Producer Ben Wisch has wisely kept the arrangements sparse, leaving the undulating acoustics of Martyn and Pete Brookes to propel many of the accompaniments. In fact so stripped-down and skeletal are the accompaniments here that one producer I know, on hearing the album, commented that "some tracks sound like demos". I know what he means but for this reviewer the arrangements' sparse subtlety are preferable to fussilly arranged production overkill often associated with The Big Budget Album. The quality or otherwise of such determinedly introspective music rests in the song-writing and here we can report that Martyn has honed his craft to real excellence. Possibly his strongest songs are his collaborations with poet/lyricist Simon Henderson; catch the telling tale of a woman forced into prostitution, "Working Mother" (with an almost Searchers 60s sound in the arrangement), and the totally devastating title track, (full of wondrous couplets like "shaking hands with maniacs/no wonder whales beach themselves.") Other songs include; "Reminded Of Heaven" is a wonderfully passionate song while "Precious" is an exquisite devotional ballad. An album which grows in stature with each play.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Reader Comments

Posted by B Cole in Norwich @ 21:49 on Sep 16 2008

the poet is Stuart Henderson, not Simon, and maybe this should be updated with recognition that Joseph has continued on his 'journey' and produced a range of excellent new albums.

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