John Martyn
Solid Air


4.5
superb

Review

by Liberi Fatali EMERITUS
November 27th, 2005 | 40 replies


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist


At the time of producing Solid Air, John Martyn was fighting a long and strenuous battle with alcoholism. But despite this apparent distraction, John Martyn's musical career did not suffer, at least not in terms of his albums. Solid Air is often looked at as one of Martyn's defining moments along with the brilliant Bless the Weather, Grace & Danger and Live at Leeds. It is easy to see why Solid Air is considered one of his best, with Martyn making huge strides both in terms of his voice and his signature backslap guitar playing.

Solid Air starts out strongly with the title track, Solid Air. His vocals take on a new heightened level of proficiency that easily surpasses anything heard on his prior work. The vocals slur and slide together with some words melting together in a heavily Jazz influenced tone that mix flawlessly with Martyn's warm and soulful backslap guitar. This Jazz influence is also represented with the sexy Tenor Saxophone that weaves in and out of the song that help to keep the listener enchanted in the song's sexy and mellow soul.

However John Martyn does not ditch his Folk and Blues roots completely on this album, and borrows heavily from the style of Bless the Weather as well as other artists like Eric Clapton. This is evident in songs like May You Never, The Easy Blues and Over the Hill where Martyn's guitar takes on a sharper accent and stronger tone. Although they have a feeling that is more similar to his previous work, they cannot be considered a step backward in Martyn's evolvement. May You Never is a track that feels very similar to Eric Clapton's work of that era, and was even co-produced by Clapton himself.

Martyn's voice may not be as mature as in other tracks on Solid Air, but his excellent backslap guitar work more than makes up for it, helping to provide a clear and precise rhythm that many other singer and songwriters lack. The Echoplex delay effect is also clearly evident in Over the Hill and May You Never, which is an effect that allowed Martyn to play several layers of guitar over each other. This creates a rich intermixture of several simple patterns woven together to make a complex arrangement.

Jazz and Folk are not the only genres to make their influence felt on this album, with I'd Rather Be the Devil and Dreams By The Sea both taking on a more Blues driven Rock feel. These two songs at times feel out of place on Solid Air and are more similar to Martyn's later albums like Grace & Danger and Glorious Fool. However both songs are still solid contributions to the album, and help show off Martyn's versatile voice.

It is however the the more simple and warm tracks that make Solid Air what it is. Don't Want to Know is another song that shows the perfect blend of Martyn's potent voice that can melt words together and that irresistible backslap guitar. The song slowly builds up from a brooding lush piece to a catchy blues driven piece, yet again showing Martyn's diversity. The Man In The Station and Go Down Easy demonstrate Martyn's knack at blending together the different instruments into one "eeeeeesay" going melody. In some ways they copy the formula of the title track Solid Air, but when listening to this album one cannot help but let that go and absorb oneself into Martyn's choclate covered voice

Solid Air is a massive improvement over some of Martyn's previous work, and many of the songs still remain today as Martyn's signature tunes. The album lets itself down in one or two areas, and I'd rather be the Devil feels rather out of place in comparison with his softer and sexier melodies. It is because of these slip ups that Solid Air falls short of 5 stars.

Solid Air isn't for everyone, people looking for instant hooks and catchy melodies may find that Solid Air does not deliver straight away. However Solid Air rewards the listener who allows themself to be immersed by the music, and most of all, to be immersed by that enchanting voice.



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4.2
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jawaharal
November 27th 2005


1832 Comments


cool, a Liberi review
and a good one too

masada
November 27th 2005


2733 Comments


Good review. You might want to fix some of the paragraphs spacing there.

I don't think I have ever heard of this guy, so I have no opinion.

Zebra
Moderator
November 27th 2005


2647 Comments


Good work, it's cool to see that you're reviewing again.

I can't comment further because I haven't heard this album. This Message Edited On 11.27.05This Message Edited On 11.27.05

morrissey
Moderator
November 27th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very nice work. I have heard this album, haven't listened to it as many times as you'd like though. ;)



I really like the title track.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
November 27th 2005


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review. You might want to fix some of the paragraphs spacing there.



I don't think I have ever heard of this guy, so I have no opinion.


Yes it screwed up on me so I had to do a quick fix last night. But I'll fix 'em properly now.





I really like the title track.


How many times have you listened to the title track? :p

morrissey
Moderator
December 12th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey hey hey over the hill





any recommendations for a followup album? I should buy something.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
December 14th 2005


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well if you want to go for his more recent stuff, then check out On the Cobbles, it's worth it simply for the track 'My Creator'.



Bless the Weather and No Little Boy are also good older stuff.



SpeakerCity
July 23rd 2006


48 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This album is really something special. I'd never heard folk like this before John Martyn. Pre-Martyn folk, for me, was just Bob Dylan warbeling along, I didn't even know that so much could be done with the genre. Embarassingly, this is another artist I have to thank my mum for introducing me to though.



Don't want to know is my favourite song, I love the way he is able to make folk music so... melow.



It's a shame there seem to be only three people, me included, who've actualy heard the album though, ha ha.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
August 2nd 2006


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Him and Nick Drake are really inspiring for me. Sure I can dig what Bob Dylan did, but Drake and Martyn's soft style is just so beautiful. As you say, it is just so melow.



It didn't surprise me to learn that Drake and Martyn were actually friends.

SpeakerCity
March 31st 2007


48 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm pretty certain that the title track was in fact written about Nick Drake.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
April 4th 2007


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah it is.

morrissey
Moderator
October 4th 2010


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

'May You Never' is easily the 13th or 14th best song in recorded history

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 4th 2010


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Finally she admits it!



Solid Air still does it for me the most though, or maybe Don't Want to Know.

jefflebowski
December 9th 2011


8573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

why anyone would rate this below 4 is beyond me

jefflebowski
February 17th 2012


8573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album needs more recognition goddammit

AngelofDeath
Emeritus
February 17th 2012


16223 Comments


Totes.

fsharptrit0ne
February 21st 2012


4817 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yea this really rules

Collis
October 3rd 2013


568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nick drake bought me here. only onto track three, really enjoying it. his voice is quite excellent.

RadicalEd
October 24th 2013


9484 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What if I told you...



I like this better than Nick Drakes Albums.

Digging: Fennesz - Agora

JamieTwort
October 24th 2013


26988 Comments


This rules but it doesn't touch Pink Moon for me.



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