In the storied tradition of powerful female Americana artists from Roseanne Cash to Gillian Welch to Carole King comes April Martin, a New York City-based psychologist-turned singer/songwriter. For Martin, it just took a little time for the songs inside her mind to commit themselves to paper — then to records. “Songwriting came to me half a lifetime later,” she says, “after spending decades immersed in the human condition as a psychologist and a parent of three children. To my surprise, I found myself humming tunes I’d never heard before and giving voice to things that welled up in me.”
Heavily influenced by her dad’s penchant for flipping on the radio in the ’50s and hearing tunes like Patti Page’s “How Much is That Doggie In the Window?” and “Oh! My Papa” by Eddie Fisher, she soaked up a variety of influences and channeled them into her own unique sound, a blend of digestible pop colored with easy-going roots.
Her second album, In the Blink of a Life, explores the human condition in an emotional way, revealing a second side to this psychologist. Martin bares her soul, tugs at the heartstrings, and paints a fully authentic portrait of the spectrum of joy, sadness, and love that we experience daily.
We asked Martin to do the near-impossible: choose five songs that had a huge impact on her as an artist. (“I imagine other songwriters also groan at the task of choosing five musical influences among the thousands that have shaped us,” she responded.) Nevertheless, a look into her five varied and interesting choices definitely gives future listeners a glimpse into what to expect from her as an artist.
1. “Slip Slidin’ Away,” Paul Simon
“I wish I could include another 40 of Simon’s songs with their brilliant lyrics, beautiful melodies, poignancy, and sense of humor, but I chose this one because it grapples touchingly with meaning-of-life questions, which I’m drawn to in my writing. I love songwriting that conveys our humanity in all its nuances, and this one does it with genius.”
2. “Crazy,” Willie Nelson
“I love Willie singing it, and I love Patsy Cline’s version. This song is gorgeous both musically and emotionally. It does what I want a song to do: capture a feeling in a way that’s simultaneously simple and profound. It’s a perfect song.”
3. “Angel From Montgomery,” John Prine
“I’m blown away by the creativity of this song. I can see the flies buzzing in that old woman’s kitchen, I can feel her boredom and her longing, and even though I may never have had her circumstances, I know exactly what she means. Prine makes me ache for her to have that something to hold onto.”
4. “Time In a Bottle,” Jim Croce
“I try to use them sparingly, but I can’t resist a minor key. As a child, a song in a minor key would make me feel oceanic, magical, transported, impassioned. And the older I get, the more heartrending is the idea that the time we have to savor the love in our lives is so fleeting. The title of my second album, In the Blink of a Life, is so much a reflection of our relationship to time.”
5. “Feels Like Home,” Randy Newman
“Sigh. I can’t hear this song without it opening my heart up to the point of tears. This song is like a prayer of gratitude for love. Its genius is something I keep aspiring to as a songwriter, but I’m humbled by it. Thank you, Randy.”
For more on April Martin, please visit AprilMartin.com.