Kreeg ik vorige week deze in de schoot geworpen: een singer-songwriter uit Portland (Orgeon) die op zijn eerste single een folky vintage vibe weet op te roepen. Alweer eens iemand met een zalige korrelige stem en sobere guitarpicking als begeleiding die me op een bepaald moment aan Willie Nelson doet denken.
Thank God We Left the Garden verschijnt op 3 november 2023 via Loose Music.
Loose are excited to announce the signing of Portland, Oregon artist Jeffrey Martin who has today shared news of his upcoming release Thank God We Left the Garden. The 11-track set is due out November 3rd and will be Martin’s first new full-length since 2017's One Go Around. Today, Folk Alley is premiering the music video for the album’s lead single “There Is a Treasure,” which features footage of Martin and fellow celebrated folk artist Anna Tivel, praising, "Martin lays down crisp guitar picking that flows in gentle waves underneath his smoothly raw vocals, creating a sonic stream that tumbles forward with tender resignation, amused wonder, and serene joy".
Of the new song, Martin offers, "This is a thankful ode to all that remains out of reach. To the brief glimpses of a place beyond time and worry, beyond death even, where we live purely and forever in the here and now and it stretches out past all measure. And in that place we feel ourselves as beautifully unimportant, untethered from the din of our daily angst, a single part of the huge mystery of existence. What a special human gift to be able to see ourselves framed in that light, released for brief moments from the otherwise burdensome weight of being alive. And from that soft and careful vantage point, it's a little easier to see the preciousness of each life and to find compassion for every person’s story."
The title Thank God We Left the Garden is a paradoxical nod to Martin’s own spiritual conclusions, a theme that is subtly woven throughout the album. The son of a pastor, he touches on his religious upbringing then carries us well beyond his past where the weight of his deepest questions are free to unfold.
“It’s always bothered me how uptight religion gets around the messiness of our human natures, always trying to tell people they’re broken and flawed from the get-go,” Martin explains. “The only God I can imagine is one who is overjoyed with the mess. Who revels in the edgeless mystery. I imagine hanging around with angels all day gets boring pretty fast. So maybe we got the story wrong. Maybe we were supposed to leave the Garden all along. Maybe that was the first good thing we ever did. After all, I can’t think of anything that has an ounce of meaning or dimension that doesn’t come from failure.”
Self-produced and recorded in a tiny shack on the back of Martin’s small corner lot in southeast Portland, the songs on Thank God We Left the Garden began as demos meant for a later visit to a proper studio, but became the quietly potent album itself. Beloved Portland guitarist Jon Neufeld would later mix and master the record and add electric guitar to three songs. Sticking to the same less-is-more approach, his work skillfully and subtly elevates the lyrical intention, becoming such a crucial part of the final result that Martin also credited him as a co-producer.
Martin recalls, “There was a magic quality to the sounds I was getting in the shack with these two cheap microphones, some lucky recipe of time and place…I feel like I’ve only just learned how to sing. Like I’ve been chasing this record since my very first recordings. I wanted to really see what I could do, just my guitar and my voice and little else. I don’t think it was conscious. I think maybe it was a reaction to the pace of life these days. The churning news and entertainment and politics and violence of it all. I needed to know that even in this day and age, just a few simple ingredients still hold up.