John Arthur Martinez

Lone Starry Night

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John Arthur Martinez once sang George Strait songs in Texas bars, and Lone Starry Night follows the same neo-traditionalist country road. That means Martinez knows his country roots well, and draws from everything from honky tonk to Western swing to straightforward ballads, and that he leans closer to contemporary than alternative country. Both "The Man Who Holds the Bow" and "Home Made of Stone" rely on the time-honored practice of finding a slightly catchy metaphor to carry the weight of the song ("It ain't so much the fiddle, it's the man who holds the bow"). The problem with this approach is that many such phrases can sound like clich├ęs before the ink dries. Martinez is more successful with "Amarillo By Morning," a gentle ballad relating hard-earned experience, and "A Girl Named Texas," a catchy bit of Texas jazz (Western swing). It's also nice that whether one listens to the quirky "The Armadillo Song" or the happy-go-lucky "Tonight at Fiesta," the guitars, steels, and fingerpicked acoustic guitar always come through loud and clear. Martinez is a soulful singer, and seems equally comfortable singing a love song like "Pour a Little Love On It" or the brooding "Trouble Rides a Fast Horse." Lone Starry Night should please contemporary listeners looking for a bit more bite to their country.

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