Genre-bending is practically run of the mill these days, but have you ever heard an artist claim to run the gamut from “elements of hot jazz, indie folk, latin, opera, hip-hop, and cinematic pop”? Meet Daphne Lee Martin, the woman behind this ambitious catalogue of influences.
On her single “Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Head,” she sets out to show off her chops as a truly versatile lyricist and vocalist, even incorporating a rap verse by artist SuaveSki. Her sultry vocals blend jazz and soul, but the music is inflected with a funky, percussive groove.
The video juxtaposes shots of Martin performing with idyllic shots of nature and surreal glimpses of black and white film. Lyrically, the song stays true to the commitment of her latest effort to tackle the idea of storytelling in all of its facets: “fables, fairy tales, Bible stories, mythology, poetry, cautionary tales, traditional folk songs, and American popular culture of the 20th century.” She picks her title from a biblical tale, and weaves gospel elements throughout.
Her latest album, Fall On Your Sword, will be out on October 2nd. Catch her in New York City when she hits the CMJ Music Marathon in mid-October, or throughout the rest of the country on her fall tour.
Martin flirts with multiple genres from smooth jazz, to rap, folk to Spanish flamenco. The experimental air about this album gives it a unique edge, containing raw imagination, the kind the music industry hasn’t seen for while. Multiple tracks include fragments of public speeches, each carefully utilised to convey a very specific message.
Martin embarks on a journey to create an album that is both timeless and aware of current trends. Her deep, soulful, smooth vocals are dripping with passion and spirit, blending perfectly in the balance of each track.
With this album, Martin is showing the world her vast capabilities and vivid imagination. An expression of real gumption and resourcefulness, it intertwines a multitude of genres together without making it feel disjointed or out of place. Even the Crazy Frog makes an appearance! She is definitely someone paving the way for new directions with this unique collection of tracks. An album that should certainly satisfy those craving some clever song writing and interesting arrangements.
This weekend, Amy McCarley and Daphne Lee Martin perform at Luthier’s Co-op in Easthampton in support of their new albums, Jet Engines and Frost, respectively.
“Everybody Wants To,” the first track from Alabama alt-country artist McCarley’s Jet Engines, begins with a philosophical inquiry into the nature of individuality and universality. She states that there are certain desires shared by everyone, then sings in her low alto: “Well I’m not everybody/ I’m just me/ But I am one body/ and anyone can see/ Everybody needs to believe in something/ And everybody is no different from me.”
McCarley plays acoustic guitar on all 10 of the album’s tracks. Her harmonica work lends an especially relaxed mood throughout, as does the guitar playing of George Bradfute, who sits in with his electric on “Smart Man,” and his slide on “Head Out of Town.”
After listening to McCarley, Martin’s indie offering Frost sounds especially synthesized—not in a bad way—with William James Readey using his keyboards to do an impressive impression of a samchillian tip tip tip cheeepeeeee. (The space age-sounding samchillian is a keyboard MIDI controller designed by Leon Guenbaum, who plays it so effectively in guitarist Vernon Reid’s band Masque.)
Frost begins with “Little Birds,” which is full of samchillian-esque sounds, before segueing into “The Book of Love,” the album’s only cover. The Magnetic Fields tune has also been covered by Peter Gabriel. The middle three tracks—”Make It Rain,” “More Flies With Honey,” and “Smile at Perfect Strangers”—show Martin’s jazzy blues side. “Five Points,” the eighth and final song, is an upbeat, electronica instrumental.
Ohio native and schooner veteran Martin sings and plays electric and acoustic guitar, banjo, flute, and other “sounds,” the album’s inside cover notes. Beneath the CD hold there is a stenciled quote: “Treat a queen like a whore and a whore like a queen,” which Mickey Doyle offered in Boardwalk Empire, just as Frank had in Alien 3.
(Originally appeared in the Valley Advocate.)
TORCH FOLK | Daphne Lee Martin
Daphne Lee Martin’s coquettish coo swoons over perky blues and cocktail jazz with a post-modern flair. While her sound is undoubtedly nostalgic, her latest LP Frost is not bound by tradition. Martin deploys plenty of contemporary elements, from the theremin in the mournful “Five Points” (before it turns into a trip-funk dance-floor banger for its final two minutes) to the noisy blues lead that opens the swinging “More Flies With Honey,” not to mention the arsenal of subtle electronic textures she employs throughout the record. As a whole, Frost is a playfully impertinent eight-song collection that sweats glammy indulgence, with Martin genre-hopping without losing her smoky torch-like bearing. She’s reminiscent of folk-tronic-loving Beth Orton in how she retains many traditional trappings without being mired in them. Frost follows last year’s earthier, thematically linked Moxie. That album, which was fueled in part by a Kickstarter campaign, was accompanied by a photographic art book developed by Martin and artist Pola Esther featuring women throughout history who have struggled to embrace their sexuality and self-expression. —Chris Parker
Don’t forget, there is a string of great full band shows coming up! Visit the SHOWS page for details…
April 3rd | Pianos Showroom (Ludlow Street NYC)
Badassery ensues with the Frost CD release party in New York, special guests: Lindsey Mills, Isaac Young Quartet, and Underwater Country Club.
Joining us from Huntsville, AL, the amazing Amy McCarley and Andrew Sovine as well as our good pals form Newport RI, the Smokey Barrel Band! This will be a big show with all kinds of special guests, my 8th anniversary, and general homecoming madness!
We’ve been hoping to swing a show at Johnny D’s for a while now and it’s finally here! It’s a free show too, starting at 10pm. Can’t wait to knock that off the ole bucket list with all you gorgeous Bostonese!
April 12th | Jimmy’s Saloon (Newport RI)
April 19th | Record Store Day (Telegraph NL CT)
April 26th | Acoustic Cafe (Bridgeport CT)
and many more coming!!!