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Martin Sexton - Sugarcoating (Kitchen Table)

Star rating: 

Martin Sexton likes to keep it real, whether writing from his own personal experiences or the times we live in, there's always integrity present in the songs he writes. SUGARCOATING is Sexton's eighth studio album to date and is potentially a career best. Recorded over a period of seven days, using vintage recording equipment and analog tape in a conscious effort to make a record 'the way the old jazz guys did', the album sounds fresh, uncluttered and richly varied in style.  

With a core band of much sought after musicians from both sides of the pond, including Duke Levine on guitars, Dave Mattacks on drums, Marty Ballou on bass and Tom West on keyboards, the Syracuse-born, Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter appears to be more than comfortable with each of the songs and the arrangements, some of which are bathed in an almost tangible sense of fun.  

For the most part working in collaboration with New York singer-songwriter Dan Mackenzie, Sexton once again demonstrates a command over storytelling with thirteen accomplished songs ranging from the soulful Always Got Away, the country-inflected Long Haul, featuring additional vocals by sister Colleen, to the funky Boom Sh-Boom, bringing with it a distinctly sweaty vibe from the Fez club in New York's East Village.  
More seriously, the title song addresses the horror of 9/11 in a most unusual way, with a jaunty sugar-coated feel, reminiscent of the Sons of the Pioneers, deliberately adding irony to the content. 

Co-produced by Sexton and Crit Harmon, SUGARCOATING also contains some beautifully melodic songs such as the Beatles-influence Stick Around, complete with Abbey Road reference, whilst Easy on the Eyes, ventures into crooner territory, complete with voice trumpet solo; take us to the bridge Mart..

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky