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Live Wide Open

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Album Review

Martin Sexton's first live CD is appropriately titled Live Wide Open, but it might just as well be called "Sexton Unbound." Though the singer/songwriter gives dynamic performances on all of his albums, this freewheeling, powerhouse two-disc live set makes the studio records seem straightjacketed by comparison. Sexton is playful, rambunctious, and endlessly creative on every minute of this album. Most of these songs have, of course, appeared on his studio efforts (all four of which are well represented here), but there isn't a track on Live Wide Open that doesn't seem substantially different from prior versions. The folky "Gypsy Woman" becomes a 16-minute Middle Eastern-flavored funk-rock jam. "Hallelujah," a snappy '70s soul-pop tune from Wonder Bar, is played here with such gravity and sincerity that it almost sounds more like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" than Martin Sexton's. "Black Sheep" begins as a soft, torchlit ballad before winding into a Sunday-go-to-meetin' gospel rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." With the exception of a swaggering blues cover of John Brim's "Ice Cream Man" that features Nils Lofgren on guitar, Sexton does all of his genre-hopping with only drummer, Joe Bonadio, to back him up. Instead, he slides a thumb up and down his guitar's low E string to create a surprisingly convincing bass sound and wails into a distorted microphone to simulate screaming electric guitar solos. It is a remarkable tour de force performance that plays to all of Sexton's strengths — his buoyant energy, expansive vocals, and eclectic musicianship — while rendering his weaknesses — the relative superficiality of some of his songwriting — virtually irrelevant.

Customer Reviews

One of the best live albums of all time

No word of a lie, this album changed my life. It revives my soul. Thank you Martin.

Fantastic Album!

I had the chance to see him live this spring and it was the best live performance I've ever seen!

Great Performer

Saw Martin for the first time at the Ottawa Bluesfest last year - the guy should be knighted for his contribution to music. What a performer!!!

Biography

Born: March 02, 1966 in Syracuse, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Martin Sexton was one of the most talked-about arrivals on the "new folk" acoustic music scene. The guitarist, singer, and songwriter has an amazing vocal range and makes effective use of it on his recordings and in his live shows. Unlike so many other contemporary singer/songwriters, his vocal style can be described as truly soulful,...
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Live Wide Open, Martin Sexton
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