Nova Scotia singer and songwriter Christina Martin recently released her new single Lungs Are Burning and toured the UK, visiting ten cities from York and Cheshire to London and Brighton. I was lucky enough to catch her intimate performance in one of London’s smallest but newest clubs, The Sound Lounge in Tooting.
Although Christina has released six studio albums and spent 15 years building her solo career, I discovered her music only recently. And, after the evening at Sound Lounge, I can’t stop asking myself why it took me so long.
The night opens with Gabrielle Papillon who, with only an acoustic guitar to accompany her, performs the most magical and spellbinding set. The Canadian artist creates a world of soft tones and raw emotions, telling some personal stories in between the songs. Most touching is the harrowing tale of life and death coming together on a stormy night that introduces the heart-moving Go Into The Night and causes a few tears to flow.
Gabrielle isn’t the only opener of the night. Jules Talbot, from Suffolk, introduces the audience to his debut work, combining catchy guitar rhythms and an informal storytelling style with a strong voice and great sense of humour. His short performance left me curious about his music; sadly he’s the evening’s only performer without any albums for sale.
Although daylight is beginning to fade, the temperature certainly hasn’t dropped by the time Christina Martin takes to the stage. It’s unlikely the East Coaster was expecting tropical temperatures when she booked her flight to the UK, but she faces the heatwave bravely, even asking the audience to point to the sweatiest band member at the end of their performance.
The de facto “winner” is drummer Justin Johnson, although the other members of the band (her life/music partner and guitarist Dale Murray, bassist Callum Williams) are close runners up. Their state shows just how much effort they put into their set, which begins with I’ve Got A Gun, a soft, almost country-sounding track off her most recent album, I’ll Be Alright.
From the off, Christina connects with the audience and treats fans to a mix of songs and personal stories. This is clearly the night of storytellers, and as much as I enjoy Gabrielle and Jules, Christina takes it to an entirely different level.
She speaks about her musical influences (and jokingly asks that if anyone meets David Bowie they should pass on her thanks for being an inspiration), and even performs an epic cover of Leonard Cohen’s Tonight Will Be Fine.
But it’s her own songs that make me think I’ve lost decades worth of music. Puppet Museum (with its Bruce Springsteen-influenced guitar riff), the minimalist Take Me Back In A Dream (uncovering the depth and beauty of her voice), and very personal Reaching Out clearly demonstrate why she is a multi award-winning singer and songwriter. By the end of the night, the Halifax-based musician has landed herself a few more fans, including myself.
The set closes with the breathtaking Lungs Are Burning, the first single from her forthcoming seventh studio album, due in November. With intriguing vocals reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, Dale’s haunting guitar, and a moving story behind the lyrics, the song suggests the new album can’t come soon enough.
Live Review and Photography by Edyta K
Christina Martin @ The Sound Lounge, 7th July 2017
Nils van der Linden chatted with Christina Martin just before her performance at The Sound Lounge, to find out about her plans, the challenges of touring, and why she became a musician in the first place. You can read the interview and see the accompanying portraits by Edyta K here: Christina Martin, Old Memories New Perspective.