BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
An as yet undiscovered talent, Jeffrey Martin’s second album — and first for the scrappy Fluff and & Gravy record label — is something of a revelation. A singer/songwriter in the tradition of early Dylan, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, John Stewart and Josh Ritter (one of whose songs, “Best for the Best,” is covered here), he delivers his material with a weary resignation that’s never less than absolutely affecting.
Accompanied by a lean line-up that includes upright bass, drums, fiddle, mandolin, trumpet and piano (played by label owner John Shepski, no less), Martin’s music is haunting and even harrowing at times, making songs such as “Coal Fire,” “Hard Year” and “Dogs in the Daylight” resonate with a slow ache in the midst of their dark designs. Not that this is an entirely mournful set of happenstance; “Down at the Bottom” manages to set a jaunty gait, while the dark and shadowy “Legs to the Moon” purveys an aura of mystery and mystique. Still, this is an effort that takes time to fully sink in and appreciate, a difficult demand in a world given to flash, spectacle and instant satisfaction.
Nevertheless, Dogs in the Daylight heralds the arrival of a compelling new artist who’s likely to gain well-deserved attention as a result. Intimate and insightful, it’s a set of songs expressed with a genuine and meaningful grace and finesse.
DOWNLOAD: “Best of the Best,” “Coal Fire,” “Legs to the Moon”