Martin Sexton

September 27

Martin Sexton is rare, not so much for his musicianship, for good musicians are a dime a dozen, but because he's an old-fashioned performer--selling the audience not only with the music, but the passion and energy behind it. Perhaps it can be attributed to his naturally impetuous and rebellious nature, which landed him in frequent trouble as a youth, leaving him irrepressible and undeterred. Maybe it's the period in Boston, when busking the subways and street corners was his only source of income, making him hungry and bold. Whatever the source, Sexton's live shows are a charismatic tour de force reminiscent of the Boss' never-ending tent revivals, with Sexton prowling the stage like a man obsessed, enraptured by the primacy of the guitar-music-audience connection and his own showmanship.

Then there's his voice. Yes, his voice. If anything establishes his pedigree as an American troubadour, it's that silky baritone, moving as acrobatically as Jackie Chan, leaping from bluesy growl to fluttering falsetto, burbling blue-eyed soul to jazzy vocal scat, ever without a net. That supple instrument of his seems capable of almost any feat and enables Sexton's itinerant genre-hopping. While he's cut from the mold of such soulful crooners as Van Morrison and Otis Redding, Sexton moves freely among soul, R&B, gospel, roots, rock, blues and jazz. Though prone to occasional overwriting and soft-headed sentimentalism, his buoyant energy and nimble vocals more than make up for his lyrical deficiencies.

 
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