Live Wide Open – Martin Sexton
Kitchen Table 3445714202
In a live setting, Martin Sexton is as much a jamband as he is a soul
man and a folk troubadour. With his able musical accomplice, Joe Bonadio, on
drums and percussion, Sexton enlists his vocal gifts, a few technical aids
and chutzpah to bring together a multitude of guitar, bass and horn parts
even a little additional rhythm. As Sexton put it when I interviewed him
last year, newbies at his
concerts are surprised by the mighty sound the duo supplies.
Also, like jambands, Sexton's first live disc, Live Wide Open, a
two-disc set recently released on his Kitchen Table records, offers one
particular shading of his musical personality. A different take can be found
the next time he comes to your town, and another one can be found when he
performs at the following town and so on and so on…
The album brings together material from eight different cities. While we
do not receive the captured-at-a-particular-moment-in-time type of live
recording that can be found on something that receives a specific date and
venue, it's apparent that Sexton is seeking to do more than present a
On disc one, the material chronicles his foibles, miscues, and his highs
and lows in life and romance. The talent of his songwriting is that Sexton
spreads out universal truths while never letting up on the harsh judgement
himself. Yet these moment are supplied with endearing and identifiable
moments that keeps the audience entranced by what happens next lyrically and
musically. Throughout, Sexton's voice becomes the foil for these words of
revelation, sentimentality and sadness. He growls, croons and narrates his
way amidst these situations.
On the second disc, two important matters in his creative life make their
presence a force. Clocking in at nearly 20 minutes, the epic "Gypsy Woman"
alludes to Led Zeppelin's influence. The
number also gives the listener the full impact of Sexton and Bonadio,
giving the impression that there is a full band onstage.
While there are references on his other numbers, Sexton finishes this set
of songs (his particular life journey that started on disc one) by
accepting his place in the world ("Black Sheep") and holding on to his
spiritual self to get him through his own self-made screw ups.
As he mentions in "Black Sheep," he doesn't follow his muse, he tries his
best to get out of its way and allow the music to happen. The method works
for him, but just as importantly, it makes a good impression for those
listening as well.