Murphy had a fiercely independent spirit, something that can also be said of the gifted Washington DC singer/songwriter Heidi Martin, whose latest album, the mesmerizing, self-produced Gifts & Sacrifices (**** four stars HeidiMartinMusic), highlights her smoky, Phoebe Snow – like timbre as well as her ability to weld astute socio-politicatl observation with poetic lyrics and cutting-edge sonics. Imagine Joni Mitchell, Michael Franks and Cassandra Wilson rolled into one. ~Record Collector Magazine UK
Heidi Martin has produced a knockout sensation in the guise of her new platter ‘Gifts & Sacrifices’.The voice is ornate, earthy and lovely, pulling against unusual chord changes highlighting how deep a song can go emotionally, or how much musical invention it can contain. Her sense of melody gets more dense as opposed to diaphanous as she leans more fully into gear on this incredible offering from wistful acoustic soundscapes to complex jazz pop and beyond Martin seems to have all angles covered. These cuts are bittersweet and relatable, creating a new space for songs that make unfettered, artistic statements, unbound by cliché and traditional female auteur, she is definitely going for it in 2022.
Opener, ‘Memphis’ sets the bar high. It’s a strong start with great stick work (which ramps up on the funky Headhunters vibe of ‘African Waltz’) beautiful floaty trumpet and above all spaciousness are the key to this sounding so good. ‘I’m Still Afraid Of The Devil’ is a gorgeous slice of acoustic blessedness with strolling spanish guitar, gloriously high pitched double bass and great brush work.
The soft, seductive lilt continues with the sublime ‘Moon In Scorpio’ a majestic slice of songwriting with its strong earth-mama lyrics and stunning control of long notes which is a great skill of hers.she has fierce technique too and her crystalline contralto are in full effect on this gem.
‘Rice’, a funky clarinet infected groove, finishes of the album on a high with its jazzy soprano sax (reminiscent of Tom Scott on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Cold Blue Steel & Sweet Fire’) is woven into the fabric of the song and not just tacked on for codas. Nothing is tacked on on this sterling effort it’s well-honed and supreme ensemble playing to boot.
Heidi Martin is a phenomenal singer and she is flush with soulful, intoxicating melodies. This album is a veritable tour de force as she is capable of shifting her perspective from interior to exterior and anywhere but loose.It’s a remarkable body of work and great to see an artist absolutely assured of herself.