Martin Sexton - SugarcoatingI am certainly not about to knock any songwriter who includes a song called “Shane” on his album. In this case, Martin Sexton is writing about his son, but his message is certainly one I could have taken to heart when I was a younger person. I would like to think my own father shared these same sentiments with me, in his own way:

So catch a little cold
Get a little heat
Expect to fall when you take a stand
Just land on your feet
Break a few hearts
Bend a few rules
If there’s water in the pond
Dive into the deep end

On his ninth album, Sugarcoating (Kitchen Table Records), the Syracuse-born Sexton does what he does best – unearth the larger truths that are scattered among the mundane minutiae of daily life. There are a lot of singer/songwriters out there, each trying to find some truth in their writing, but only a handful succeed in a meaningful way. Martin Sexton is in that elite group. He describes his own search in the album’s opening track, “Found.” He can move from the buoyant paean to romance “Boom Sh-Boom,” to the brokenhearted look back at missed opportunities “Always Got Away” without missing a beat. A consistent honesty runs through these songs, and Sexton seals the deal with a soulful, r&b-inflected vocal style that he demonstrates on the upbeat “Livin’ the Life.”

The album’s title track raises substantial questions about the events of 9/11, and the wars that have been waged in the aftermath. Sexton indicts the media for their failure to report the truth, opting instead to offer “sweet, sweet, sweet sugarcoating.” While the battle being waged in “Wants Out” is a more personal, internal one, the stakes remain high:

My heart is a thundercloud
And the rain wants out
My heart is a burning house
And the flame wants out
Wants out

Martin Sexton is determined to chart his own course on his own terms, as indicated by the release of Sugarcoating on his own label. In the timeless tradition of the troubadour, he goes from town to town spreading his truth. As he says, “I sing for free, man. I get paid to travel.” If you are a follower, this new release will satisfy. If you are new to Sexton’s music, this is an ideal place to jump in.

About the Author

Ken Shane

Ken Shane lives in Narragansett, R.I. He is a freelance writer and far and away the oldest Popdose writer. In fact, he may be the oldest writer, period. He wants you to know that he generally does not share his colleagues' love for the music of the '80s, and he does not forgive them for loving it. (Ken passed away in November 2022. R.I.P. —Ed.)

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