MUSIC REVIEW: CHRISTINA MARTIN - SLEEPING WITH A STRANGER

There's a new album just out by Port Howe, Nova Scotia's Christina Martin, called Sleeping With A Stranger. It's available digitally now, through her website, and will be in stores in July. Now, I wanted to review this record, but then I realized there might be a conflict of interest doing that. You see, I'm involved in the project. Not the music part but after the fact. No money changed hands, we're not business partners, but I do know Christina quite well, and she did me the honour of asking if I'd write the liner notes for the album, a little essay about what I'd heard. So a couple of months ago, I received the disc, and set down my thoughts.

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And then I realized, heck, I've already reviewed this album, I wrote it two months ago! I can just print the liner notes, wham, an easy column, I'm done work for the day. Plus, since the album is only out digitally right now, you can't get the liner notes yet. This is a win-win situation. So, here you go, direct from the back cover of the Sleeping With A Stranger album, my little essay.

Christina Martin has already led a life-and-a-half, and she's not that much past a youngster. She's moved about, she's settled down, she's had adventures both happy and sad, and learned how to document her own stories and those of others in four (now five) acclaimed albums. In short, she's just what I'm looking for in a singer-songwriter.

She has great honesty. As she sings on this new album, "Not good at keeping secrets/I will tell you warts and all." That's what keeps me coming back to her songs, whether she's singing about some pain or delight she has personally felt, or a story she has found on the road, where strangers will open up their lives to her. Here you'll find the heartbreak of a waitress in Penticton, who bared all to her in a ten minute talk. Then there's Marina, a friend from Martin's days in Austin, Tx, trying to run away from her heart.

You can only write this stuff if you have empathy, and you only gain that from confronting the dark parts of your own life. Listen to Martin's voice, you'll hear the depth and commitment to the story, and you'll find out what drives her, too. I think its her search for that sense of safety in her life (and the others she sings for). She's striving for happiness against the odds, and dealing with the sadness. It comes from someone who has seen their security betrayed by the people who are supposed to provide and protect it.

Oh, but she can pop it up nice, too. Listen to the grand productions she and husband Dale Murray have concocted for you, close harmonies and gorgeous melodies, like the Byrds-Bangles jangle of "What I Always Knew". See? Happy, reflective, down times, all the complexities. For all of us trying to find the life we're meant to live, here's a soundtrack.

So that's the liner notes, you can buy a digital copy of the new album now, and next month you'll find it in stores.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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