Review- “Sleeping With a Stranger”- Christina Martin

reviewed by Michael Thomas

The East Coast to me looks like the most prolific place for creative music. The scene is extremely tight-knit, and when looking at an album from an east-coast singer-songwriter, they’re bound to have been helped or influence by their peers even more so than other places in Canada.

Christina Martin is no stranger (pardon the unintentional pun) to the music scene, this being her sixth album. This time around she’s had help from her husband Dale Murray, who has released an album of his own this year already. The result is a collection of nice pop tunes with some surprises along the way.

The album starts off with the pleasant song “Water It.” The song makes an analogy of love like a plant that just needs to be watered. Martin sings “Our love never dies to the point where it can’t grow again.” It also sneaks in some great banjo partway through.

I was drawn to the title track due to how abruptly serious it was in contrast with the lighter fare of the previous song. This is partly thanks to the lush and intense string section that reaches its pinnacle around the two-minute mark. The lyrics are also a touch depressing, particularly the line “I’ve been sleeping with a stranger to pass the time.”

A few of the album’s songs deal with characters, namely the songs “Marina” and “Sally.” The former is a character from when Martin used to live in Austin, TX. The story of Sally is one of a mother who doesn’t want to be controlled.

Another album highlight for me is “Take My Body Home,” a departure from anything else on this album. The main guitar is broken and echo-y, and Martin sings a little slower to really build up the gloomy atmosphere. The hook of the song features a funeral-esque organ and even features backing vocals from Matt Charlton of the publicity group Pigeon Row. Small world!

The song is contrasted (probably on purpose) by “Secret Song,” a much more upbeat pop number, so gleeful that you can hear hand claps in the verses and “doo doo doo’s” that will just make you want to sing along.

Other little surprises come along, such as “Painting Blame” which comes across as a straightforward pop tune until the last few seconds where some weird music is thrown in. The quick “Away From Me” opens up as though it could be a classical piece before Martin begins singing.

Sleeping With a Stranger manages to pull off a few surprises in the end, and it makes this album a little more endearing than your regular singer-songwriter pop record. The album is available through iTunes.

Top Tracks: “Sleeping With a Stranger”; “Take My Body Home”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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