JOHN MARTYN: "Grace And Danger" (Island ILPS 9560)
John Martyn has founded a fluctuating career on musical obstinacy, and years of dogged devotion to his own cause and purpose have paid off with recent albums of improving excellence. Grace And Danger continues the tenacious trend, rooting itself in the elegant creativity of One World, but working with more joy as an improving musical whole – at time the blending of Martyn's voice and guitar, John Giblin's beautiful bass and Phil Collins' immaculate drumming is, simply, breathtaking.
As ever, Martyn's songs work as pieces of mood and atmosphere, creating their feeling as much from the texture of the music as his hazy, phrased lyrics. It's the control and direction of that mood that causes Grace And Danger's only problem – the voice and basic instrumentation are fertile and rich enough, and the addition of Tommy Eyre's light, airy electric piano is an over-sweet gossamer that occasionally overweighs the balance.
Martyn has maintained a similar balance in song choice to One World. The dominant atmosphere is of quizzical reflection, broken by Johnny Too Bad, which has the mutated guitar dance attack of Big Muff on One World, topped by a keen, sweet guitar solo.
Listening to Grace And Danger made me finally realise just why I like John Martyn: he continues to use the seductive timbre and tones of electricity with the experimental joy of a neophyte rather than the hacking compromise of the predictable professional. He is worth your time. – JOHN ORME.
Picture of the article kindly provided by John Neil Munro.