Music Review: Gregg Martinez, Soul Of The Bayou

Published on May 17th, 2016 in: Americana, Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher


Louisiana Swamp Pop king Gregg Martinez has the kind of powerhouse voice that seems to grow slow and deep, like the roots of an ancient tree, straight up from the earth. It’s an incredible voice, and Martinez has a gift for adding an extra lagniappe of soul to everything he sings.

On his latest for Louisiana Red Hot Records, the appropriately named Soul Of The Bayou, Martinez adds inspired covers to his self-penned tracks, and the result is deeply satisfying. He is backed by a truly fine band (Gregg Kingston on slide guitar, Charles Ventre on keyboards, and Pat Breaux on sax, among others). The opener, a slinky take on the classic “I Can’t Stand The Rain” kicks off with Kingston’s slide guitar and follows through with Stax-y horns. It’s a slow burn of a groove with Martinez giving a rich, soulful performance. Another clever cover, Sly Stone’s “If You Want Me To Stay” is a percolating dance floor filler with wah wah guitar, and Gregg Martinez kicking out the funky jams. His vocals are ripping.

Martinez can really sell heartbreak. On the bluesy “Wish I’d Never Loved You At All,” he gives a stellar, heart-wrenching performance. He lets it rip on “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” a serious tearjerker. “If I Had Any Pride Left At All” is a full on weeper, crushingly sad despite the tinkly piano. Martinez gives a mature, virtuoso performance.

Mature is the watchword on Soul Of The Bayou. Gregg Martinez is a fully-formed, adult artist with a glorious, expressive voice. The gorgeous, old-school doo-wop vibe of “Who’s Loving You” is wonderful (the way he sings, “Now listen” almost under his breath sent goosebumps up the spine). He sells the hell out of that song with soulful slips into falsetto, silky in the right places that hit the ear (and the heart) just right. “That Old Wind” is bluesy and swampy with bright guitar licks. The protagonist is “Standing on the levee/waiting for the surge” and waiting for that old wind to wail. It’s an evocative, atmospheric track with a great, chugging beat and crisp percussion. “Mac Daddy” is a likable, upbeat blues number—a character study of sorts about a fellow who drives a rag-top Cadillac and has loads of women who follow him out of the club on the regular. “Remember You Used To Love Me” is a barroom boogie that’s a bit slicker than it needed to be, but witty lyrics salvage the track.

Soul Of The Bayou is an amiable charmer. Gregg Martinez’s voice is incredible and he’s wisely chosen his material (and band) to showcase that killer voice. It’s a pleasure to hear.

Soul of the Bayou was released by Louisiana Red Hot Records on April 29.

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