john Arthur martinez
Apache Ranch Records
I’ll admit. I didn’t give john Arthur martinez (jAm) a fair shake after I heard he was the runner-up of the first season of Nashville Star in 2003. I had that “Reality TV” chip on my shoulder. I thought he was going to be just another corporate-made middle of the road country musician.
My mind and attitude changed around 2005 when I caught him playing a show in San Marcos. He is a genuine nice guy and the kind of singer-songwriter who can paint a beautiful picture with words and melody.
His 2009 release Purgatory Road is no exception. It’s just over 40 minutes of wonderful Americana music.
I may be completely wrong but I put a lot of stock in the order of an album. Purgatory Road seems to tell a story. First up is “Utopia,” a wonderfully written track about a man’s sad circumstances from birth including being born to “a mamma who wouldn’t want me once my daddy disappeared.” The title track is about losing just about everything due to bad personal choices and the Walt Wilkins cover “You Can’t Outdrink The Truth” fulfills this tri-fecta by introducing the realization that you are in charge of your own fate.
I think the fourth track, “Thunder and Lightning,” is my favorite on the disk. The music sounds like a classic Garth Brooks song and the lyrics have a Stoney LaRue feel to them.
“I need the rain to wash the salt from my eyes / I need the rain to wash away all the lies / thunder and lightning only drive me insane / You are thunder and lightning / but you bring me no rain.”
But it’s not all songs about loss. “Que No Puede Ver” he shows a talent for penning and delivering a Spanish/English love song. The story of a young songwriter chasing his future is detailed out in the letter-to-mom-song “Closer To My Dreams.” The classic 60s sounding ballad “When You Whisper In My Ear” is a pretty sweet closing song for the album.
Perhaps songs like “Thunder and Lightning” are what happens when a talented singer-songwriter like jAm gets a taste of Nashville but keeps his Texas hat on. Whatever it is, it works for him. If you are a fan of good music with a twang give Purgatory Road a listen.
The next show he has in the area is December 5 at Cheatham Street Warehouse opening for Radney Foster. That’s will be an amazing night of music.
Side note. No it’s not a typo. He spells his name john Arthur martinez as a nod to famed poet e.e. cummings.