His 25th album is John Martyn’s best for some time, a relaxed, summery affair on which the songs seem to evaporate in their warm surroundings, leaving just Cheshire-Cat suggestions of emotions and Martyn’s balmy baritone humming like a cloud of insects.
Chicago hip-hop engineer Stefon Taylor has decked the one-time folkie out with discreet, shuffling grooves that carry the songs lightly along. Martyn’s languid, slightly baffled vocal style suits the trancey grooves well: they offer a regular, but not intrusive, structure against which he can extempo-rise freely as the feeling takes him. Check the way `All in your Favour” breaks down into looped layers of scatted vocables riding a warm, rolling breakbeat.
The warmth radiating from the album stretches to Martyn’s delivery, too:-even when considering “The Downward Pull of Human Nature”, he manages to sweeten the fatalism with a graceful, delicate touch, which in less able hands would lapse into whimsy. If there is a fault, it lies in the comparative lack of guitar on And, apart from one perfunctory wah-wah solo in “Step it Up”, there’s little trace of the innovative six-stringed artistry that glowed through albums such as Solid Air. Why bury it so invisibly here?
2 August 1996