Written by Bill Whiting – [email protected]
The fifth release on his independent label, Kitchen Table Records, Sugarcoating brings the wide variety and depth of Martin Sexton’s talents alive with a rare vibrancy. Putting together the cohesive backing band of Duke Levine on guitar, Dave Mattacks on drums, and Marty Ballou on bass, Sexton seems more at ease on Sugarcoating than on previous studio discs. A free flowing interplay between Sexton’s deft songwriting skills, and his impassioned, improvised vocals, exists on the album’s closer, “Just To Be Alive.” As on 2007’s impressive project, Seeds, Sexton chooses to begin Sugarcoating with a standard pop based number, the irresistible, hook filled, “Found.” Sexton seeks out the compromising artist inside that yearns in the lyrics to be “searching for the common ground, seeing likeness in strange faces.” “Boom Sh-Boom” is a distant cousin to 1998’s The American gem, “Diggin Me,” and Sexton reveals a playful and engaging side on the danceable track. Sugarcoating’s radio ready “Livin’ the Life” explores the philosophical themes and questions of choice and determination with a steady, but light approach that highlights the singer’s fuzz guitar like vocal solo contributions. The title song is an acoustic country throwback that features Levine’s lap steel playing, and Sexton’s retro “cowboy” harmonizing. Produced by Sexton with Crit Harmon, and recorded and mixed at Camp Street Studios in Cambridge, MA, Sugarcoating is an enlightened folk statement that transcends, and pushes the barriers of the genre. As Martin Sexton takes risks not heard since 2000’s seminal group influenced Wonder Bar, the listener is the humble, yet happy beneficiary.