Barbara Martin

Between White and Black

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On Between Black and White, Barbara Martin's songwriting continues to be as fine as it was on her previous release, A Matter of Time. However, on this release, she has adopted a more generic, contemporary country sheen for some of the arrangements, borrowing liberally from the palette used by John Jennings and Mary Chapin Carpenter on MCC's Come On Come on and Stones in the Road. Consequently, upbeat material like the opening duo of "Common Everyday" and "Between White and Black" lacks the distinctiveness of Ms. Martin's earlier work. That having been said, this is an excellent collection of original, folk-inflected material. The ballads "Part of My Plan" and "Sister" are gorgeous, the latter featuring beautiful violin and oboe accompaniment. Jamal Millner's bottleneck guitar enlivens the acoustic blues, "I'm an Old Woman," and "Worthy of Love" sounds like it should've been a country hit. Martin's lyrics are full of joy, pain, humor and real life. In "The Great Escape," she's out to "dance until the dawn breaks, paint the town a flaming red, " while on "The Almighty Bottom Line," she laments the true artist's dilemma: "There's only one question to be asked/Does it make a lot of money, real fast." While plowing the folksinging fields may not be the best way to make a lot of money real fast, Barbara Martin shows herself to be an artist whose work is worthy of being heard by a larger audience. Her music has a depth that grows on the listener each time it is played. Hers is a voice that will be appreciated by any lover of tasty, intelligent, well-crafted music.

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