By: Bill Clifford
Seeds (Kitchen Table) is the first CD of original songs from troubadour Martin Sexton since 2000's Wonder Bar. In the last seven years he's freed himself from his Atlantic Records contract and gotten married. Sexton built his reputation traveling across the country performing songs that detailed the trials and tribulations of broke and downhearted lonely souls. But, on this latest release it's apparent he's no longer writing from that state of mind.
The opening track says it best - "Happy," complete with handclaps, backing vocals and bouncy church organ provided by Sexton himself is an opus to his recent nuptials. "The fella's are going to have to understand/And tip their hats to the man who scored/Hot damn, I'm so happy," he sings. But, lyrics aren't the only change in direction the new album offers. Sexton has always been a bit of a soul-searching, roots-oriented folkster. Seeds takes root in music's most fertile and traditional soil, gospel, as tracks like "Wild Angels" and the only cover on the CD, Willie Preston's "Will It Go 'Round In Circles," illustrate.
"Goin' To The Country" features good friend Keller Williams on acoustic guitar and dobro, and is every bit as catchy as the title implies. This is a foot shufflin' ditty about leaving the rat race behind to breath in freedom and the fresh air of the open road. "I'm Here" and "Marry Me" are both loose, carefree odes to his love, the later rife with thick church organ swells, reedy falsetto, plucked piano and guitar strings. On "There Go I" it's Sexton alone, singing the praises of the divine spirit.
It's hard to know where Sexton stands on religion. On the catchy "Failure," he sings, with tongue planted in cheek, of Catholic school nuns and "penguins" (priests) that told him he'd never make it as a choir boy. Then, in the chorus he thanks the deity for failure and "the mighty music for making the dreams that choose me come true." Despite that failure was all he ever knew, he's made peace in this world and knows that "everything's okay now." The lush and lovely "I Still Think About You" is an acoustic ballad to the one that got away.
"I believe songs are seeds. Once planted they can grow and nourish and inspire and with that, change the world," said Sexton in a press release. While this critic isn't naïve enough to believe this album will actually make the world a better place, given repeated listens Seeds may indeed take root and blossom.
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