The second album in Walter Martin's self-described "juvenile" series, My Kinda Music captures the funny, poignant nuances of being young in songs that build bridges from parents to children. This time, Martin borrows some of the appealing looseness of the grown-up Arts & Leisure; "Child, the Man Said," which sets a fanciful bedtime story to barrelhouse piano, could be a fresh-faced outtake from that album. Indeed, storytelling is Martin's focus on My Kinda Music, and he takes inspiration from a pair of master tale-spinners: Garrison Keillor and Randy Newman. The latter is even mentioned by name on "Hey Matt," a reunion with the National's Matt Berninger, who helped make "We Like the Zoo ('Cause We're Animals Too)" a We're All Young Together highlight. Here, he stands in for Newman, giving Martin singing lessons and commiserating because Newman wouldn't appear on the song. Meanwhile, "Family Tree" marries Keillor's folksy style with a genealogy lesson and wide-open strumming that sounds like staring at never-ending fields from the back seat on a road trip. Stories and family go hand in hand throughout My Kinda Music, and Martin combines them especially well on the bouncy call and response of "Marco Polo," where a kid humors his dad by playing one of his boring old games, and "Where'd You Go Uncle Joe?," which shows some love to aunts and uncles, who aren't the most represented relatives when it comes to music. And when it comes to Martin's music, these songs are among his most expressive, blending decades and influences in his inimitable way: the title track riffs on doo wop and calypso, and the tropical twang continues on the Laura Gibson collaboration "Trip on a Ship" and "The Everglades," which gets wilder and woollier as Martin and company get closer to their destination. From the irrepressible opener "The Wishing Well" to the finale "It's a Dream [Night Version]," which calls back to We're All Young Together with a sweetly tucked-in reprise, My Kinda Music has a wonderful sense of musical and family history. Martin achieves just the right balance of fun-loving and laid-back, building on an impressive body of solo work that also happens to be effortlessly heartwarming.
My Kinda Music Review
by Heather Phares