Published Oct 19, 2010This Halifax, NS native displayed a lot raw emotion on her last release, 2008's Two Hearts, the encapsulation of time spent slogging it out on the Austin, TX club scene. Martin's songwriting approach has always relied on a lot of Lucinda Williams/Marianne Faithful-style hard-won wisdom, but I Can Too is a great leap forward musically, thanks to production work by her fiancée, Cuff the Duke's Dale Murray. This combination has resulted in a vintage mid-'90s alt-country sound: jangly mid-tempo rockers offset by dark confessional ballads. What sets I Can Too apart though is Martin's commitment to honestly exploring complicated relationships. This is especially effective on the title track, which contains overtones that suggest a theme of revenge rather than empowerment, carrying over into the haunting "Subject to Change," featuring a suitably disembodied guest harmony from Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor. But the standout track is "Take," an unexpectedly sweeping, Springsteen-esque anthem that in an alternate universe would be a sure-fire radio smash. There's nothing to suggest that Martin won't get to that point some day. For now though, I Can Too still finds her lingering in the darkness on the edge of town.
This album shows a lot of musical growth. How has your songwriting changed over the last couple of years?
I don't know if my songwriting has changed. There are songs on this new album that I wrote years ago and then songs that Dale and I finished in the studio. I just follow the same type of loose rules: try to be honest, try not to censor yourself too much and try not to bore yourself or others.
What's the story behind "Take" and do you think it might be the start of you moving in a more pop-oriented direction?
Dale and I co-wrote that one. Although I really enjoy writing songs that lend themselves more to the pop and rock genres, I think it really depends on the project. It is hard for me to see myself moving fully into any one direction, but time will tell.
You're touring right now with Cuff the Duke as your backing band. Do you think a full collaboration might ever materialize?
I would certainly love to hire Cuff the Duke to collaborate on a future album at some point. Since this album touches on some darker topics, we wanted strong rhythms and more up-beat tempos. It's been a thrill to play with them. (Come Undone/EMI)