Les Cousins (label)
22 April 2014 (released)
24 April 2014
I think it must be nearly 15 years since the last solo album from Beverley Martyn and I was very uncertain as to how it would be – her last album ‘No Frills’ was rough but she was a stalwart of the British folk scene in the sixties before her marriage to John Martyn and she performed with the likes of Paul Simon and was even taught to play guitar by the mighty Bert Jansch. This collection of songs were written at various points along her career and they are an intriguing view of a great British icon.
The opening song, ‘Reckless Jane’ was written with Nick Drake and echoes of his playing and style are clear in the song but the lyrics feel as though they are telling Martyn’s story – probably the best song on the album but there are some other gems.
‘Sweet Joy’ was the first song she ever wrote and its delicate playing and sweet tone are warming and gentle. ‘Levee Breaks’ is a dark and powerful piece that brings echoes of Katrina – the stark guitar line is chilling.
‘Women & Malt Whiskey’ is the tale of the breakup of her relationship with John Martyn (she was right about it killing him) but it is remarkably shy of bitterness and you can hear her tenderness for a damaged genius.
Martyn’s voice is not what it was but she still has a dark intensity and quite a range.
She has been a long time coming to this point but the result is pretty good and worth the wait.