Heaven And Earth
The current, Brits endorsed interpretation of folk music, in which well-heeled young people dress as canal workers and sing about imagined old times, doesn’t really legislate for someone like John Martyn.
A ludicrously tough product of a childhood in Scotland, Martyn’s musical recipe incorporated folk, blues, jazz and anything else that came up as he went along.
Martyn lived so hard that when he died aged 60 two years ago, it was with half a leg missing, the result of an amputation in 2003 after a cyst burst in his knee. Legend has it that he once broke his neck when his car hit a cow.
Your move, ‘nu-folk’ darlings Mumford & Sons.
Heaven And Earth collects the last nine songs Martyn completed before his death. Two servings of gravelly funk lower expectations, after which the languidly pretty title track and the driving urban soul of Could’ve Told You Before I Met You offer ample reassurance that Martyn’s more mellifluous talents remained intact to the end, even if his poor old leg wasn’t.
The Mail On Sunday
15 May 2011