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Angela Faye Martin: press

"Angela-Faye Martin's ethereal voice and poetic lyrics capture the heart and soul of Appalachia.  It is as if the mountains themselves are singing."

Ron Rash (Mar 1, 2013)

It may be because of my own Yankee upbringing, but there seems to be a unique quality to music associated with the South that is too enchanting to ignore.  The music of Angela Faye Martin is no exception.

Although faced with a particularly bad case of writer’s block after the passing of friend and mentor Mark Linkous (the enigmatic Sparklehorse maestro who produced her first record), Martin has broken through this barrier and has recorded an Americana record with modern textural timbre.
I recently spoke with Martin about how her songs take shape and the production of the record.  Regarding her songs, she charmingly explains that “they have their own destinies, and I just have to listen and I have to obey.”  Somewhat jokingly, she refers to her “muse” as something similar to a combination of Keith Richards and the dwarf shaman Mestigoit of the film Black Robe, that demands her cooperation whenever it pleases.  Given the Pentecostal tradition of snake handling and the Appalachian mysticism described by Southern Gothic authors, it doesn’t seem all that farfetched.
Everything you’d expect from a Southern songwriter’s album is there for the most part.  Tender acoustic guitars, dreamy fiddles, and the mournful whine of the pedal steel lend weight to Martin’s feather-like voice.  But I cannot name many albums of this particular ilk that rely on drum machines and punchy synthesizers quite like Anniversary.
The guitars and vocals of the album’s standout track, “Landslide,” erupt with the strength that its title suggests. Perhaps just as noteworthy is the whimsical “Lovesong for Paris.”  The lush instrumental swells and tremolo-laden chorus creates a sense of romantic urgency that illuminates the listener’s imagination.  Think of the fragile vocals of Mazzy Star set atop the dream pop of Mercury Rev.
There is certainly no shortage of singer-songwriters these days.  But what sets Angela Faye Martin’s Anniversary apart from her contemporaries is her brave use of sounds long considered unorthodox to the genre.  Anniversary is a record for those who appreciate solid songwriting, but also have a more explorative record collection.
Recommended Tracks: Lovesong for Paris, Landslide

It may be because of my own Yankee upbringing, but there seems to be a unique quality to music associated with the South that is too enchanting to ignore.  The music of Angela Faye Martin is no exception.
Although faced with a particularly bad case of writer’s block after the passing of friend and mentor Mark Linkous (the enigmatic Sparklehorse maestro who produced her first record), Martin has broken through this barrier and has recorded an Americana record with modern textural timbre.

I recently spoke with Martin about how her songs take shape and the production of the record.  Regarding her songs, she charmingly explains that “they have their own destinies, and I just have to listen and I have to obey.” Somewhat jokingly, she refers to her “muse” as something similar to a combination of Keith Richards and the dwarf shaman Mestigoit of the film Black Robe, that demands her cooperation whenever it pleases.  Given the Pentecostal tradition of snake handling and the Appalachian mysticism described by Southern Gothic authors, it doesn’t seem all that farfetched.

Everything you’d expect from a Southern songwriter’s album is there for the most part.  Tender acoustic guitars, dreamy fiddles, and the mournful whine of the pedal steel lend weight to Martin’s feather-like voice.  But I cannot name many albums of this particular ilk that rely on drum machines and punchy synthesizers quite like Anniversary.
The guitars and vocals of the album’s standout track, “Landslide,” erupt with the strength that its title suggests. Perhaps just as noteworthy is the whimsical “Lovesong for Paris.”  The lush instrumental swells and tremolo-laden chorus creates a sense of romantic urgency that illuminates the listener’s imagination.  Think of the fragile vocals of Mazzy Star set atop the dream pop of Mercury Rev.

There is certainly no shortage of singer-songwriters these days.  But what sets Angela Faye Martin’s Anniversary apart from her contemporaries is her brave use of sounds long considered unorthodox to the genre.  Anniversary is a record for those who appreciate solid songwriting, but also have a more explorative record collection.

Recommended Tracks: Lovesong for Paris, Landslide

Blurt Magazine - 8 stars

Singer-songwriter Angela-Faye Martin is not rewriting the book on Americana, but her take on Appalachian-haunted folk-rock is as forward-looking as it is back-reaching. The title track to Anniversary (released on Martin's own Totem Girl Music) opens with the spooky twang of string ringing over radio-static of a keyboard - which could either be the Mellotron or the modified Casio "Tablebeast," played by Matt Linkous and owned by his brother, the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. (Martin dedicates the new album to Mark, who produced her last record, '09's Pictures From Home, before he took his life in '10.)
 
"Eagles pray with their might / and sometimes a smile looks just like a scythe," Martin sings, unhurried, in her soft but infallible woman-child vocal. And, on the searing/soaring "Grace": "I'm a little lamp wanting to be lightning / And I stand under your shivvertree / 'til you return." That song is accompanied by Melissa Moore Linkous (Matt's wife) on violin - a shimmering touch that adds another layer of ache to the palpable missing of Mark.
 
But as much as Martin was affected by the late Sparklehorse musician, hers is a unique voice and style that draws on deep roots and deeper mysticism. (Seriously, hold Martin up against your Gillian Welch, your Be Good Tanyas, your Lucinda Williams - this girl can write.) "Honey" slinks through the snarl of guitars and dark washes of bass. Martin's voice sweeping easily between a low whisper and a high lilt. Her sense of dynamics is impeccable, as is her ability to marry mountain balladry with modern electronics and hooks that are catchy if not completely poppy.
 
And, while Anniversary is dark ("It's a bit grievous," Martin wrote in an email. "It was a grievous time."), it's not without its moments of beauty and levity. Many of them, really. And among those, "Lovesong for Paris" is a standout. Lush and shuddering with misty autumnal wonder, the song eases through a crush of melodic guitars and percussion into the warbling chorus. Swooningly cinematic from beginning to end, the song is a breathless leap into all that's right with the world.
 
The delicate "Ravens at Night" matches chiming tones with finger-style guitar and finger snaps. Martin's vocal is close to the mic, imparting secret folklore and possibly ancient spells. There is a certain witchery whip-stitched into Anniversary, but it's a good magic. A totem for safe passage, an amulet for sweet dreams. Trust Martin's incantations and her poetry in both their child-like wonder and their wild abandon (the churning, stinging "Baker's Wife").
 
Included in the magic is a prayer of sorts. Two, actually. The album's final tracks, "Swifts & Swallows" and "Which Fork" are dedicated to Mark Linkous and Vic Chesnutt respectively. Chesnutt was also a mentor of a sort to Martin, and a friend to Linkous. Chesnutt ended his life just three months prior to Linkous' death - a grievous time, indeed.
 
"I'll make the coffee / If you take the clip out / You say you're sorry / Let's take the bike out," she sings to Mark's memory. The songs is featured on sparkle on, a blog celebrating the music of Sparklehorse.
 
But, though Anniversary ends (as it begins) at the side of a grave, this is not a sad album. "Which Fork" is a slow waltz. "You have no control / all you have is your hopes / and they take their toll," Martin sings, sagely. But she's still dancing. With her ghosts and with her hopes, with her guitar and with her darkly lovely songs. Because as much as these songs recall what has been, they're really about what's to come.
 
DOWNLOAD: "Anniversary," "Lovesong for Paris"  -ALLI MARSHALL

Singer-songwriter Angela-Faye Martin is not rewriting the book on Americana, but her take on Appalachian-haunted folk-rock is as forward-looking as it is back-reaching.

The title track to Anniversary (out today on Martin's own Totem Girl Music) opens with the spooky twang of string ringing over radio-static of a keyboard — which could either be the Mellotron or the modified Casio "Tablebeast," played by Matt Linkous and owned by his brother, the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse.

Martin dedicates the new album to Mark, who produced her last record, '09'sPictures From Home, before he took his life in '10.

"Eagles pray with their might / and sometimes a smile looks just like a scythe," Martin sings, unhurried, in her soft but infallible woman-child vocal. And, on the searing/soaring "Grace": "I'm a little lamp wanting to be lightning / and I stand under your shivvertree / 'til you return." That song is accompanied by Melissa Moore Linkous (Matt's wife) on violin — a shimmering touch that adds another layer of ache to the palpable missing of Mark.

But as much as Martin was affected by the late Sparklehorse musician, hers is a unique voice and style that draws on deep roots and deeper mysticism. (Seriously, hold Martin up against your Gillian Welch, your Be Good Tanyas, your Lucinda Williams — this girl can write.) "Honey" slinks through the snarl of guitars and dark washes of bass. Martin's voice sweeping easily between a low whisper and a high lilt. Her sense of dynamics is impeccable, as is her ability to marry mountain balladry with modern electronics and hooks that are catchy if not completely poppy.

And, while Anniversary is dark ("It's a bit grievous," she wrote to Xpress. "It was a grievous time.") it's not without its moments of beauty and levity. Many of them, really. And among those, "Lovesong for Paris" is a standout. Lush and shuddering with misty autumnal wonder, the song eases through a crush of melodic guitars and percussion into the warbling chorus. Swooningly cinematic from beginning to end, the song is a breathless leap into all that's right with the world.

The delicate "Ravens at Night" matches chiming tones with finger-style guitar and finger snaps. Martin's vocal is close to the mic, imparting secret folklore and possibly ancient spells. There is a certain witchery whip-stitched intoAnniversary, but it's a good magic. A totem for safe passage, an amulet for sweet dreams. Trust Martin's incantations and her poetry in both their child-like wonder and their wild abandon (the churning, stinging "Baker's Wife").

Included in the magic is a prayer of sorts. Two, actually. The album's final tracks, "Swifts & Swallows" and "Which Fork" are dedicated to Mark Linkous and Vic Chesnutt respectively. Chesnutt was also a mentor of a sort to Martin, and a friend to Linkous. Chesnutt ended his life just three months prior to Linkous' death — a grievous time, indeed.

"I’ll make the coffee / If you take the clip out / You say you’re sorry / Let’s take the bike out," she sings to Mark's memory. The songs is featured on sparkle on, a blog celebrating the music of Sparklehorse.

But, though Anniversary ends (as it begins) at the side of a grave, this is not a sad album. "Which Fork" is a slow waltz. "You have no control / all you have is your hopes / and they take their toll," Martin sings, sagely. But she's still dancing. With her ghosts and with her hopes, with her guitar and with her darkly lovely songs. Because as much as these songs recall what has been, they're really about what's to come.

The Woods Got To Know Angela Faye Martin
Now It's Our Turn

When the CD arrived in the mail, addressed to me from a woman I did not know, I thought it was nice that she'd included a personal typewritten note on the back of the one-sheet she'd included. Still, I expected another run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter album, earnest and pleasant but mundane, like so many others. I put it on, and discovered quite the opposite.

(for full interview -- follow the link below)

Angela Faye Martin
Pictures From Home

Musical artists – especially heretofore unknown ones – play with phonic fire 
when they hook up with established artists, especially one like Sparklehorse’s 
Mark Linkous, whose sonic palette – eerie tape loops, blip and drone, Fox 
News-sized distortion – is so instantly recognizable. The trade-off is that 
the established artist can piggyback the unknown to the mainstream – or at 
least further upstream. That said, don’t get the idea that the 
Martin-Linkous pairing is the uneven mountain rock equivalent of, say, 
Timbaland and Chris Cornell. Martin’s more spare, less Sparkly tracks (“The 
Ballad of Lolita Dean,” “Adieu, Mr. Higginson,” “Widow’s Lament”) stand tall 
on their own. The two artists comingle best on “Pictures From Home,” wherein 
Linkous seems to have learned some pop-ulist punch from his recent 
collaborations with Danger Mouse, while Martin’s voice, a wonderfully 
unique, fuzzy-around-the-edges sonic sup, still somehow steals the show. Put 
another way, the ‘Horse Martin rode in on isn’t the best in this particular 
show, and that’s no mean feat. -- TIMOTHY C. DAVIS

There’s a playfulness in the lyrics of Angela Faye Martin, a Georgia musician currently based out of Franklin, NC. Her debut EP One Dark Vine is a sparse affair that lets her vocals shine, and her wry Southern storytelling recalls the clever turns of early Vic Chesnutt.

Angela Faye Martin         Pictures from Home        

The stark landscape captured on the cover of Angela Faye Martin’s Pictures from Home, a near monochrome of toneless beauty and reflective quiet, is perfectly evocative of the music found within.  Martin, who lives in the far western mountains just north of the Georgia border, seems to revel in and understand the art of expressing more with saying less.  Her lyrics are lucid and direct while the arrangements that adorn the ten songs here in are a nice balance of electronica and austerity.  Teamed with Sparklehorse producer Mark Linkous Pictures from Home is multi-layered, sonically complex, and at time just plain weird (but in a very good way).  The album builds in deliberately measured fashion, with Martin’s vocals-which occupy a space somewhere between Sheryl Crow and Exene Cervenka- distorted and often buried deeply within the confines of the arrangements.  And while at times it works at other times I found myself wanting to hear more of what her voice actually sounds like. The best moments are when Martin’s lets down her guard and allows her vocals to take center stage. “The Woods Get to Know Me’ is a lovely jaunt that would sound right at home on a Gillian Welch album while “Widow’s Lament” is Martin truly coming to grips with the intricacy of songwriting. She might still have a way to go; Parts of Pictures from Home seems maddeningly unfocused, but there is more than enough evidence here that hers is a muse worth following.  I’d be curious to hear these songs performed on stage, stripped of the texturing that occasionally interferes with their resonance, with Martin revealing more of her self than this record sometimes does. In the meantime Pictures from Home is an album that will likely linger deeply until the next one comes along. ***1/2

Angela Faye Martin is an Ashevillian who recorded a strange &
interesting album, Pictures From Home, last year with Mark Linkous.
Parts of it are pretty straightforward folk-rock, but other parts are
full-bore fuzzed-out weirdness. I'm most interested in the fact that
Martin seems to have a perfectly good singing voice, but she & Linkous
made the appealing [to me, anyway] decision to fuzz the shit out of it.
Shitty fuzz beats perfectly good any damn day of the week.  

- Trianglerock.com (Jan 6, 2010)

 

FUZZTONE MAGAZINE: Just north of the NC/Georgia state line lies Angela Faye Martin, a singer songwriter who with the help of Sparklehorse guru Mark Linkous has created a strong, ten song slab of backwoods weirdness that is as good as anything released on a major label this year.

From the beginning of Pictures From Home’s opener “Strawberry Roan”, a creepy, one chord at a time slow builder featuring Martin’s vocals distorted and tremolo’ed all over the place, listeners are taken on a journey of songs that are not only interesting lyrically, but new little bubbles pop up musically all the time.

Linkous’ production isn’t so much the star on Pictures From Home as it’s a place setting for Martin’s increasingly interesting songwriting.  There isn’t a bad track amongst the bunch on the album, although a scant few feel weaker than others, but the odd blips and creeks that make even the bum notes worth a second listen.

Martin may still be growing as a songwriter, but the sounds she’s created on this album are worth taking notice of, and anticipating what’s to come.

 

 

Jason Bugg - FUZZTONE (Oct 9, 2009)
Who makes music like this?! Where does it come from? I hope that we
never find out and that it keeps coming for a long time.
Dave Fridmann (Sep 9, 2009)
The librarian and her guitar
Angela Faye Martin channels a love of literature into her own folk tunes
by Jason Bugg in Vol. 14 / Iss. 21 on 12/19/2007

Like most local musicians, Angela Faye Martin has a day job. In her case, it’s at a library—which, upon listening to Martin’s music, seems an obvious fit. Authors and literary allusions pop in and out of her songs, which are often played and sung with a certain hush that simultaneously suggests an uncommon intimacy and the fear of getting shushed by the old lady at the reference desk. To Martin, the books that surround her 9-to-5 life aren’t just a paycheck; they are a compulsion and—more often than not—a muse.
“Literary figures and what they might think of this era haunt my thoughts,” Martin reveals. “I’ve felt some responsibility to my favorite writers for my love of writing. I also think it’s important to re-contextualize art figures into our time.”

The literary obsession that seems to drive Martin is also a success model of sorts.

“A good book drives you to your knees in gratitude when you’ve read it,” she says.

Martin’s own outlet, however, is songwriting.

“I’ve written songs since I was a teen and played with some good musicians before leaving songwriting and performing about 12 years ago,” she notes.
Ultimately, Martin’s departure from music for her other passion, conservationism, caused her to not only leave her roots in northern Georgia for the Western North Carolina mountains, but also turned out to be the source of an unexpected creative spark: meeting fellow singer/songwriter Thomas Rain Crowe.

“I learned a lot in doing [conservation work], but my path is back on music and writing now,” Martin reports. “I might not have met Thomas if it hadn’t been for taking that turn on the conservation path.” She recalls that she first encountered Crowe at a conservation roundtable hosted by a friend at Brevard College.

“I was impressed with his humble demeanor, considering his stature as a well-known author and poet,” she says. “He gardens and rocks, which is high in my book. He’s been a friend and mentor ever since we met.”

Crowe, who will be headlining a performance at The Grey Eagle, which also features Martin, is a local poet, publisher and recording artist who first made a name for himself as part of the so-called “Baby Beat” clique of poets in mid-’70s San Francisco. It’s no surprise that Martin’s co-conspirator is also something of a bookworm.
But books aren’t the only things that tickle Martin’s fancy. Much like the music she creates, her inspirations as a musician run the gamut from jazzy standards to creepy lullabies to classic rock staples.

“Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Sparklehorse and Nina Simone,” she says. “But I grew up playing along to British-invasion rock.”

Although her influences are wide-ranging, Martin is her own artist. Her songs are instantly familiar, with occasional emotional arcs that seem to erupt from the speakers. More than just her voice and literary-leaning lyrics, her songs feature layer upon layer of observations, inside jokes and confessions. What’s more, her songs work as a time capsule of sorts, chronicling her journey in the most personal way possible.

“I just want to feel like I’ve expressed something that I can’t convey any other way,” she offers. “It’s an avenue for connecting with something that transcends time and certainly my brief existence.”

And you thought the Dewey Decimal System was complex.

[Jason Bugg is a freelance writer based in Asheville.]
Angela Faye Martin – Psychedelic folk/ dark Americana. Every track is good. The first & last tracks seem more like intro & outro songs more appropriate when listening to the whole album than standouts for radio play; feel free to beg to differ. 3 sounds like an old Rolling stones ballad. 7 is her in pure acoustic form w/o any effects, 8 a rockin’ cross b/t Patti Smith & Lucinda Williams. RIYL: Emily Jane White, Liz Phair “Whip Smart,” Vetiver Sirens’ Muse Recommends: 2, 3, 5, 7, 8*, 9 FCC free.
* = my fave
AJ Browder the Siren's Muse - Asheville FM (Aug 30, 2009)
REVIEWS:
Angela Faye Martin | One Dark Vine
One of the nice things about being a musician today is the freedom we have to pretty well do whatever we want. We can record our own CD’s, release them ourselves, use privately owned recording studios to handle anything we can’t do on our own (mixing, mastering) and generally sidestep the whole lack of artistic control that comes with being “signed.” Of course, we also miss out on the huge recording budgets and fancy catering services and distribution and fame and fortune. Oh well.
Franklin-based singer/songwriter Angela Faye Martin’s One Dark Vine falls into this do-it-yourself ethic nicely. The production is sparse with many songs using only violin or Hammond organ to accompany Martin’s vocals and acoustic guitar. Most of it was recorded in her home. There are no drums, but the way she plays the guitar adds a percussive drive to all of the tunes, demonstrated clearly in the intro to “Cassiopeia” and the verse of “Wicked Girl.” The CD packaging looks good and maintains the “homegrown” quality, right down to the vine doodles on the foldout and CD tray insert.
When it comes to stylistic similarities, things get tricky — cliches come flying out of nowhere. The sudden jumps into falsetto on “Cassiopeia” certainly call to mind Joni Mitchell, but overall the super quirky delivery of Victoria Williams, or some of the roughness (in a good way) of Lucinda Williams’ vocals are points of reference. Oleg Melnikov’s violin adds a Southern Gothic quality to the bridge of “Cassiopeia.” Producer and engineer Michael Youngwood adds a B3 melody to the chorus of “Twenty White Flowers,” which made me think of Yo La Tengo and The Who simultaneously. That almost never happens.
One of Martin’s primary strengths is her lyricism. There’s a haziness and playful quality to the imagery, as in “Mary Shelley’s Hair,” where she ponders whether Shelley would “buy a blue Stratocaster or would she have a son.” The songs also are full of historical, literary, geographical or off-the-wall references to anyone from Faulkner to Dickinson to botanist William Bartram.
The term “Southern Gothic” comes up again in Martin’s indirect descriptions of life (or the lack thereof) and people in small Southern towns, as well as the feeling of being a “transplant” and trying to find a place to fit. Whether these feelings are purely character viewpoints or personal we may never know, but it keeps the listener on his toes. I’d recommend having Google fired up while listening to One Dark Vine. Really, did you ever think about how creepy the lyrics to the children’s song “Clementine” really are?
Martin has delivered a smart, thoughtful piece of singer/songwriter work in One Dark Vine, one that rides on the strengths of its content and depth, rather than gloss and flash. While it may not fill everyone’s cup of tea, those that enjoy digging in to an album (or EP, in this case) and enjoy lyrical content that never walks a straight line will find quite a bit to like. Seek it out, especially if you “harbor Faulkner’s birthday like it was the 4th of July.” It’s good to think and listen.
— Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper can be reached at thumbpick43@yahoo.com