Live Review: Christina Martin, Green Note, London, 7th March 2024

Picture: Pete Abernathy

The Green Note is a purveyor of fine music from many of the genres with their origins in the 20th century –  and Christina Martin’s songs weave through several of them. Some of the songs on her recent album ‘Storm’, with its orchestral arrangements, could be compared to the pomp rock of the late 70’s and early 80’s such as Kate Bush. But the stripped-back sound of her performance at the Green Note, with just her and guitarist Dale Murray, harked back to the alt-folk style of her first couple of albums.

Martin has a big voice that deserves a big band to go with it, but she achieves a surprisingly full sound with just her on rhythm guitar and Murray on guitar (with gizmos) and lap-steel. Nice-looking guitars too. I think they both used customised Duesenberg Starplayers.

There were of course plenty of new songs from ‘Storm’, including the elegant and uplifting title track. While new to us, some of them had taken a while to mature. Martin explained that ‘Still in L.A.’ was written 20 years ago about a friend she met in Austin at an open-mic, who she said moved to LA “to make it, but he hated it.” Another song with a long history was  ‘Little Princess’ in which Martin reflects on the encouragement given by her older brother when she wrote her first poem as a child. In more confessional mode, ‘In Control’ is an upbeat take on what Martin described as “falling off the wagon.” of which she intimated she has some experience.

Picture: Pete Abernethy

Songs she performed from her extensive back catalogue (she has recorded eight albums), included two where London parks have had a significant role. ‘Finsbury Park’ from her 2019 album ‘Wonderful Lie’ speaks for itself, but it was intriguing to hear that the title track from ‘Impossible to Hold’ was partly inspired her seeing Carole King at Hyde Park in 2016 and then Tom Petty at the same venue a year later. She sings Tonight you’ve brought everyone to a central park, to hear you sing about love lost and gained.” This song cranks up the emotion and is reminiscent of classic Roy Orbison to this reviewer.

We were treated to an unrecorded song ‘Golden Tears’ which came about as a result of a Canadian project, Songs for the City, whereby songwriters get paired with storytellers who have experienced hard times, and the idea is to write a song from the storyteller’s perspective. Martin is rightly pleased with the song and is planning to record it shortly with fellow Canadian, Leeroy Stagger, producing.

It would be great to see Martin and Murray back in the UK with a band. Perhaps at Black Deer or the Maverick Festival, or maybe as part of the Canadian showcases at the AMA-UK AmericanaFest.

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John Duckworth

I agree wholeheartedly with this review. Christina and her partner, Dale Murray, gave a super performance and it would be great to see them back.

Alan Peatfield

I’ve been a big fan of Christina’s music for over 15 years. Seen her numerous times when she has visited the UK although I missed her this time around. Definitely someone who deserves a much bigger audience. Thanks for the review.