Martyn Joseph

Deep Blue

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Martyn Joseph has fairly successfully, at this point, capitalized on the idea of the emotionally open and forward singer/songwriter. And so it should be unsurprising that on his latest effort, Deep Blue, he employs the same techniques that have won him so many fans in the U.K. (he was the Welsh Music Awards' Best Male Solo Artist in 2004). The songs on Deep Blue are profoundly introspective and intimate, with topics varying from love to antiwar sentiments to thanking Paul Robeson for his dedication to the Welsh miners' plight, and Joseph's voice is as rich and expressive as ever; half the time he sounds on the verge of tears. This, along with the over-production, can be a bit of overkill at times, as if Joseph is trying to force his listeners to feel the emotion in his words using any means necessary, so the songs in which he sticks to a simpler (though still very clean), folkier approach are less aggressively touching and seem a little more natural. The pacifist's anthem "Yet Still This Will Not Be" is poignant and hopeful, while the cover of Larry Norman's "Six Sixty Six" has Joseph taking a country blues approach to the piece. Religious imagery does run throughout the entirety of Deep Blue, from "I Would Never Do Anything in This World to Hurt You" ("Judas sits within the 12 tonight") to "Proud Valley Boy" ("But a dragon came here once/And he shined like ebony/…They tried to quench his fire/This David and Goliath in one frame"), but it never really comes across as evangelism. Rather, Joseph seems to be a man who, though his spiritual convictions are strong, is sometimes skeptical of the way people behave and practice their faith ("God bangs his head against the wall" and "Rigged elections, weapons blessed/Even Satan's quite impressed" he sings in the reflective "How Did We End Up Here"). He's singing for the proletariat, for the feelings of the imperfect common man, among whom he considers himself. It can all be a little much at times, but that's only due to overzealousness and over-production, and not to a lack of sincerity.

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