Thursday, January 30, 2014

Jay Malinowski & the Deacoast: "Martel" (album review)

Martel is a departure for Jay Malinowksi.  The Bedouin Soundclash frontman delves deep into his family history for this concept record (out February 11th) about his Huguenot ancestor Charles Martel.

The album charts the story of Martel's life over the course of 18-tracks, which have been divided thematically into two sides: Pacific and Atlantic.

Those who are expecting to hear anything resembling near Bedouin Soundclash will be in for a shock.  This is a dark record.  Songs like "Meet Me At the Gate" and "Dying California" are sombre numbers.



This is not an album that you can dip in and out of.  It's not going to yield any hit single.  It needs to be experienced front-to-back.  Even then there are a number of lulls that make it difficult to penetrate in a meaningful way.

There are more than a few exceptions to that sweeping generalization.  A sea shanty feel permeates the litling "Donzoko (April's Fool)".  "Up the Cross" is lead by a bouncy, free-wheeling piano.  Both, along with "Singapore Sling", constitute the fun songs on the record.

On the more elegant end of the spectrum is "Patience Phipps (The Best of You)".  A striking cello makes this a compelling and catchy tune.  A modified version of "Sloop John B" is less successful.

Martel was obviously a very personal passion project for Malinowski (there's even a companion novella in the works).  As such, it was undoubtedly be more fulfilling for him to create than it is for us to listen to.

Jay Malinowski & the Deacoast play the Great Hall in Toronto on April 4th.

Best tracks: "Donzoko Blues (April's Fool)", "Up the Cross"

Track listing for Martel:
  • Main-A-Dieu
  • Meet Me At the Gate
  • Les Bas Fords
  • Patience Phipps (The Best of You)
  • It Doesn't Feel the Same
  • Singapore Sling
  • Cool Ruler (In the Grace of Love)
  • Sloop John B
  • Dying California
  • Tall Shadow from Saint-Malo
  • Set Me Free
  • Up the Cross
  • Carnival Celebration #2
  • A Fools Tattoo
  • Skulls and Bones
  • The Reckoning
  • Low, Low, Low
6.0/10

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