Heaven And Earth

John Martyn’s valedictory recordings have a suitably weary presence that makes even such legendary laidback soporificos as J.J. Cale and Leonard Cohen seem positively sprightly by comparison.

You can almost hear the life-force ebbing away as that warm, slurred drawl dissolves into a series of extempore mumbles, the disconnected phrases rarely adding up to a recognisable song. In the opening Heel Of The Hunt, mutterings about the Brothers Grimm and Jay ‘Tonto’ Silverheels ride a gentle funk groove speared with darts of lead guitar; in Stand Amazed, burbling clavinet and accordion form a reggae-funk setting for Martyn’s mild complaint about his dog not knowing his name. The best is left to last, with the singer’s protestations that he’s still Willing To Work: “Give me a name, I will live up to it,” he sings, as good an epitaph as any.

Andy Gill
The Independent
13 May 2011