Martin Simpson

Grinning in Your Face

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Martin Simpson's 1983 album Grinning in Your Face may contain only two originals, but his unique imprint is apparent all over the record, from his instrumental arrangement of "The First Cut Is the Deepest" to his elastic vocals on Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore." Those vocals might make Simpson an acquired taste for some, but his guitar playing is rich and warm, both on the acoustic and electric, which makes the album feel quite inviting. As a matter of fact, it works its charms quite subtly, opening with its most disarming cut ("It Doesn't Matter Anymore") and then quickly -- almost imperceptibly -- slipping into a groove, alternating between traditional folk songs and more contemporary covers (including "Masters of War" and "Your Cheatin' Heart"), and always taking a slightly different approach than expected. And that's what's nice about the record: It's rooted in, but not bound to, tradition. Simpson walks the fine line between traditional and contemporary folk, and he comes up with a winner this time.

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