Martin Sexton


Of the myriad reasons to love live albums, three rise to the top of the list. Concert recordings reveal if a musician has chops or just a whiz for a producer. The buzz of the crowd infuses the performance with energy. And there’s the rush a listener gets from improvisation, when the artist takes a familiar song—original or cover—in a new direction. Martin Sexton’s Solo, his second live disc, succeeds on all fronts. With his acoustic guitar as lone accompaniment, Sexton jams on songs from last year’s studio album Seeds as well as a few classics: “With A Little Help From My Friends” and a redefined “Purple Rain” that’s jaw-droppingly awesome. (The set also includes two tracks with his band, plus a DVD, all for the price of a regular CD.) His voice won’t appeal to everyone—Sexton sounds like Al Jarreau imitating Dylan, scatting and beat-boxing his way around the middle octaves. But if you like Dave Matthews or the Barenaked Ladies, you’re bound to love Sexton. He’s the real deal, and Solo shows it.