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Purgatory Road

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Album Review

Despite the influence Mexican music has made on country music, and the country music of Texas in particular, Mexican-American country stars are few and far between. Penning "Seguro Que Hell Yes," a Grammy winning song for Flaco Jiminéz in 1995, and placing second on the 2003 season of Nashville Star helped move John Arthur Martinez towards the mainstream, but despite his considerable talents as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, he still remains largely unknown outside of Texas. With the limited playlists most country stations are saddled with, it seems unlikely that Purgatory Road will gain much mainstream traction, which is a shame. It's a solid, old-fashion country album that features solid pickin, fine songwriting (Martinez wrote or co-wrote eight of the album's 11 tracks), and Martinez's soulful singing. Possible hits include "You Can't Outdrink the Truth," a dark, midtempo, honky tonk rocker with Scott Sanders adding some forlorn pedal steel to the mix; "What Good Is I Love You," a drinking song that strips away all the romance from the subject and paints a true portrait of the havoc booze can wreak, and "Closer to My Dreams" which starts out sounding like a typical goodbye-babe-I'm-leaving-you-behind tune, but Martinez adds an unexpected twist in the last verse that gives the song a big emotional impact. The rest of the album pushes the envelope with Martinez's keen insight and fine lyrical sense (he was an English major in college and the unique way he signs his name is a tribute to his favorite poet e. e. cummings). Purgatory Road is blood-spattered badman ballad with an unhappy ending made compelling by Martinez's anguished vocal and James Mitchell's screaming electric guitar, "Que No Puede Ver" is a desolate song of impossible love sung in English and Spanish, and played with a lilt that's half-rhumba and half-Texas swing, and "The Ride," an uplifting late-night driving song delivered with a few double entendres that give the tune a cosmic resonance. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

A true up and comer

Martinez has a mellow voice, and a terrific lyric to use for it. The music is mellow, clearly Texan with a slight sprinkling of Mexican Salsa. Get in on the early music of this man destined to become a sensation.


Born: Austin, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

His parents were divorced by the time he was four and even though his stepfather primarily raised him, John Arthur Martinez saw his birth father -- a professional musician -- enough to know that being a performer was a tough life. The Austin native had the urge to perform the Texas-style of country he loved since grade school, and sneaking into an Asleep at the Wheel/Commander Cody show while he was still underage only made it worse. He was performing weekly in local clubs by the time he graduated...
Full Bio
Purgatory Road, John Arthur Martinez
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Country, Music
  • Released: Sep 15, 2009

Customer Ratings