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Non-Prog CD Reviews

April Martin

Pennies in a Jar

Review by Gary Hill

Many times artists concentrate on writing good songs, but seem to underestimate the value of proper positioning when assembling an album. Sure, in the modern world where people just listen to a song here or there, it’s not that important. But, if you are going to assemble a whole album, you should put it together to be a satisfying listening experience end to end, even if you think only a small number of people will ever listen to it that way. April Martin’s release would have benefited from more careful attention to the arrangement of the songs on the album.

Martin’s music is most often situated in the folk stylings that were popular in the 1960s. She stretches beyond that point at several places on the disc, though. The trouble is, the middle portion of the CD drags because it’s got too many folk numbers strung together, while there are three variant pieces in a row near the end. It would have been a more interesting listening experience had she taken two of those variety-lending cuts and put them in between some of the “samey” tunes. Still, each track taken by itself ranges from the good to very good range. It’s just listening as a full album where the train seems to jump the track a bit.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Out of My Hands

A bouncy folk sort of sound makes up this number. It’s catchy and rather pretty.

It's A Shame
More of a rocking sound is heard on this. There’s some bluesy hard rock, a bit like the kind of sound that was popular in the early part of the 1970s. This is a smoking slab of bluesy rock.
Cold Light of Day
Folk rock is laced with some hints of country on this number. Of the three openers, this is the weakest.
Got a Way to Go
A slower number, there’s still energy here. This is the most country-like cut thus far. It’s also a real highlight. This is a lot of fun.
Love's Been A Long Time Coming
A folky number, this is a little lackluster.
I Don't Know
A folk ballad, there’s not a lot of oomph to this, but it’s got a definite charm that holds it. When the cut gets more instrumentation added later, it’s to good effect. This feels like something that would have graced the radio airwaves in the early 1960s.
I'll Never Understand
Another folk tune, the formula is beginning to wear a little thin here. This is OK, but too much like the rest of the music.
When She Says Yes
While there is still a lot of folk here, there’s a bit of a rocking element on display, too. That makes this one stand a bit taller than some of the rest.
I Know What He Means
This is extremely mellow, and while a bit samey, there is a certain insistence in the vocals and some nice hints of country that lend this one something a lot of the other music doesn’t possess.
I Won't Make That Mistake
Although folk music is the central theme here, this really feels like a country ballad in a lot of ways.
Bye-Bye
A Chris Isaak styled rocker, this is a great bit of variety and one of the highlights of the set. In fact, it might be the strongest piece here.
One Kiss in the Rain
Here’s another rocker, this time a real retro 1960s styled one. It’s another highlight.
It Ain't About the Chassis
This time out we get a jazzy rag time number. This is a lot of fun and another great change of pace.
Warrior of the Heart
The disc is closed by another folk tune, this one a poignant and dramatic piece with some medieval musical leanings.
 
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