Martin Sexton – what a year! From performances at Bonnaroo to opening for Dave Matthews Band, Martin Sexton seems to have found the elusive Fountain of Youth. 2010 might be Martin’s most exciting yet with a new album, a renewed fan-base, sold out shows, and a business model that other musicians are copying.
Critically acclaimed Sexton is a musician’s musician and prolific recording artist. His songs are intricate and spirited covering the American musical landscape distilling soul, gospel, R&B, country and blues. His performances are dynamic and bursting with depth and have earned him a devoted following among fans, peers and critics alike. People claim that Sexton’s songs inspire them to make a change, go cross-country, and follow their hearts; to see a crowd at a Martin Sexton concert is to witness a cross-section of America.
Sexton “jumps beyond standard fare on the strength of his voice, a blue-eyed soul man’s supple instrument . . . his unpretentious heartiness helps him focus on every soul singer’s goal: to amplify the sound of an ordinary heart.” –Jon Pareles, The New York Times
“Martin Sexton is the best live performer I’ve ever seen… I may just quit my job and go follow Martin and make a fuss everywhere I go, just to make sure that people don’t go their lives without hearing this man sing to them.” -John Mayer
“Martin Sexton’s extraordinary voice howls, growls and purrs in the best tradition of blue-eyed soul. It is raw and expressive and can move in an instant from a glorious falsetto to an edgy rock plea or a simple folk lament.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“I’ve been a fan of his for quite a bit more than a decade and It’s a real pleasure to finally share the stage with him. I hope that if you never heard him before tonight is a turning point for you. He’s one of my favorite singers and songwriters” -Dave Matthews
Martin Sexton was born in Syracuse, NY and first made his mark in the early 90’s by singing on the streets of Harvard Square and gradually working his way into the Boston club scene. His first album, In The Journey, was a collection of self-produced demo recordings that were recorded on an old 8-track in a friend’s attic. Sexton managed to sell 20,000 copies out of his guitar case and recalls, “All those one-dollar bills I saved to make that record was the best eight-hundred bucks I ever spent.” His captivating performances led to a bounty of Boston Music Awards including “Best New Artist” as well as a National Academy of Songwriters “Artist of the Year” award.
In 1996 Sexton released Black Sheep, his first full-fledged studio recording which remains an active favorite among fans. Two years later, Sexton made his Atlantic Records debut with The American produced by Danny Kortchmar. Sexton’s next release, Wonderbar in 2000, was self-produced and explored the spirited sound and unpretentious attitude of classic ’70s FM radio for a new generation.
While Sexton enjoyed uncommon artistic freedom and the backing of a major label, he was left wondering if the large corporate machinery was necessary. Sexton asked Atlantic to be released from his contract and formed independent label Kitchen Table Records (KTR). His first release on KTR was 2002′s Live Wide Open, a two-disc live disc set. Camp Holiday, a seasonal album of Christmas standards came next in 2005, then studio album Seeds in 2007. In 2008, Sexton released Solo, an original live collection that caught the attention of the Independent Music Awards and won for best Live Performance Album.
In April of 2010, Sexton headed back into the studio and seven days later emerged with Sugarcoating, an album that doesn’t necessarily protest, but questions. “The last couple of years have been an awakening for me about how the world seems to work and not work,” reflects Sexton. “You can’t rely on mainstream media for the truth, I’ve discovered that you’ve gotta dig if you want a real answer about what’s going on.” He explains, “My music has always been more about inspiration and entertainment, but this time I felt the need to toss some awareness into the mix.”
To Sexton, Sugarcoating is “a photo album filled with snapshots of my family and friends” with each song stylistically different from the next. “I’ve always preferred records that range, sort of like The White Album from “Black Bird” to “Helter Skelter,” he explains. “At one time industry types tried to convince me to stick one genre, but it was like wearing a suit that didn’t fit.”
Sexton recorded Sugarcoating with no rehearsals and no pre-production, using all vintage gear in the old Rounder studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “The fellas and I gathered around the big kitchen table at the studio,” recalls Sexton, “I’d play them the song, and then we’d go in and start tracking. We nailed every one of them in four or five takes at most, and a couple are take ones. I like making records the old school way— they just showed up and worked it out.”
Sugarcoating is an unquestionable pinnacle for this modern-day troubadour, but it by no means signifies a slowing point to Sexton’s career. From headlining premiere venues like the Fillmore in San Francisco to the Nokia Theatre in Times Square, and overseeing his fiercely independent label, Sexton derives great satisfaction from ‘livin’ the life’ he’s sketched for himself. He is a compound of rarefied talent mixed with sheer determination or as Billboard describes him, Sexton is “the real thing, people, a star with potential to permanently affect the musical landscape and keep us entertained for years to come.”