Sapphire - Island 90248-1

17 Jan 1985
Edmonton Journal
Alan Kellogg
Triumph over gloss in first gem of '85
John Martyn
Island / MCA

Who can resist it? This IS a gem of an album, the first great LP of 1985 - not to mention a dramatic comeback for a trusted old friend.
Martyn's last couple of albums have been murky, somewhat disappointing efforts in the context of a full-bodied career.

Right from the beginning of the brilliant title cut, the tone of the 10 song-set is established. This is rich, verdant material that walks the listener across Martyn's emotional tightrope, with alternating delicate -and full steam ahead- steps.

Sympathetic to the cause or not, I never thought I could handle a song about acid rain or endure another cover of Over The Rainbow, but Martyn has a way of drawing you right into the heart and soul of the matter. Fisherman's Dream is as soulful an anthem as has been heard in years.

Martyn's powerful voice has always been his calling card, and never before have the veteran's lush, gritty vocals sounded as convincing.

All in all, a triumph of spirit over silliness, substance over gloss, Martyn has set a pace few artists will keep up with this year.

Alan Kellogg

This Canadian review was published in the Edmonton Journal of Thursday 17 January 1985.

Related to: