Eliot Martin is a musician from Canada now living in India. I’m not sure how that happened but I do know he released an album entitled Just One Hitch. This is a dense album and I’m not just talking about the lyrics. It's dense with instrumentation. Just take a look at the Bandcamp page for this album. French Horns, dobro, guitars, mandolin - you get the idea.
The songs are clean with separation. There isn’t much distortion which is a good thing with so much to hear. Some of the songs feel very atmospheric. I have to admit I have mixed feelings about Martin’s vocal performances. To call him a naturally gifted vocalist would be a stretch. There were songs where I think he nailed it and other songs where it didn’t quite land for me.
He opens with “Fallen Thru” which is covered with organ, vocal harmonies, guitar, piano and more. There is a Steely Dan vibe in there somewhere but I could hardly call this a rock song. The song is warm and the lush arrangements surround you.
“I Nearly Died” is more straight up rock not too far from The Rolling Stones. In fact he has a Mick Jagger inflection on this song but lacks the natural harmonics and distortion that Jagger seems to possess. I thought his voice was better suited for a the very next song “Little Green Men” which has a great beginning section before launching into the verse. The song feels a bit silly but I thoroughly enjoyed the vibe of the song.
There are other songs that have a unique vibe like “Wing and a Prayer.” Somewhere in there is a singer/songwriter vibe. As the album progresses there are certainly some highlights. One of them is “Planet Gorgeous.” The instrumentation is solid with orchestral strings supporting the vocals. Another highlight is “Mud Creek.” There are some sparse moments on this one along with very minimal percussion and stand up bass.
I’m not completely sure how Martin fits into the current scene. I can’t see his music being commercially viable on FM radio but he also would have a tough time in the climate of the underground. Luckily we live in a day and age with the Internet and you can find a niche of people for almost any style of music. Fans of artists like Elvis Costello, Steely Dan and The Beatles should at the very least give this album a couple of spins.
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