Even though I strongly question the reliability of weather forecasts, I will avoid the hypocrisy of overshooting any predictions for the latest macroburst from multi-award-winning Irish guitarist Dom Martin. They say you must weather the storm if you want a glimpse of the sunshine, but being Buried In The Hail presages something much more ominous.
Despite the entombed and menacing title warning, there’s not a black cloud in sight, with Martin himself admitting this is “the first complete work that he’s recorded with he is 100% happy with and proud to release”. His third studio album was laid at Gold Egg Studios in Ireland and produced in Dublin with the help of Grammy-nominated pairing Chris O’Brien and Graham Murphy.
Hailed (no pun intended) as the heir to Rory Gallagher’s throne, the Belfast bluesman has his own unique guitar style and voice that chisels away at the Americana, blues, and roots genres. Many of the 11 tracks here also possess an almost cinematic theme, such as “Lefty 2 Guns” — a short story about a hitman that makes the listener feel like they’re the one tiptoeing through town to avoid that fatal bullet.
“Hello In There” is the calm before the storm, as Martin showcases his acoustic talents with the pure joy of a child’s laughter in the background.
The first single, “Unhinged,” is bluesy and groovy, pivoted by a unique and captivating solo derived from the Belfast boy plugging his Gibson 339 into a 5-watt Champ amp. It will buzz around in your head for days, but trust me, that’s not a bad thing.
The Belfast native erupts into the frantic rhythm of “Belfast Blues” as he reminiscences the days of “being an animal” while playing the Northern Ireland bar scene. Martin’s manly voice is still very humane as the dark lyrics spill the blood that every family has lost on the streets (‘In and out of places, I never should have been…Shot, stabbed and burned out’).
We later hear some “Howlin” instead of a snarl as Martin pays his respects to one of his major influences — Howlin’ Wolf. Only this time, Smokestack Lighting doesn’t count twice, as Martin relies on his animal instincts to develop a primal, ferocious blues belter that’s awash with rock ‘n’ roll.
The emotionally charged title track has a touch of mystery and an eerie feel as Martin goes deep into his mind — his fierce, growling voice backed by pounding drums and voices and sounds from the past.
Ending with the brief yet thought-provoking musical outro “Laid To Rest,” Martin buries you in the hail for the final time.
Intense from start to finish, with plenty of charm and craft, this is an LP worth digging up if you want to hear the blues in a different guise.
The Review: 7/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Belfast Blues
– Buried In The Hail
The Big Hit