When it comes to records, I'm a third date man. That is to say that I usually know after three spins if I'm in love or if the album in question and I will be going our separate ways, never to meet again.
Sure, there have been discs I've flipped for after a single listen, but I find that the ones that become my can't-live-without-them, never-get-tired-of-them favorites are those that I don't necessarily grok right away.
Rebecca Martin's latest is on its way to becoming one of those perennials.
As always, I was immediately taken with the sound of Martin's voice. Clear and gentle, sweet and sorrowful, mellow and mysterious, her singing carries those little master keys that can unlatch secret places in the heart.
Then there are the beautifully sensitive arrangements. Producer multi-instrumentalist Kurt Rosenwinkel surrounds Martin and her finger-picked acoustic accompaniment with burbling jazz-pop textures--all fleet-fingered Rhodes piano and moody Pat Metheny-esque guitar. And lending the songs their airy propulsion are ace musicians drummer Brian Blade and bassist Larry Grenadier.
But with all this going for the record, it still took me three spins to fall for the songs. Why? Martin plies her melodies and phrasing in ways unexpected yet bewitching. For example, take the tune on "A Million Miles," my favorite song on the album. It's an elegant little up-down staircase with a few steps in odd places. Surprising places that can trip you up at first. But once you've followed her ascent and descent three times, you're with her for keeps.
All of the songs have that kind of slow unfolding charm about them--the stone-skipping "The Space In A Song To Think," the dreamy waltz-time "What Feels Like Home," the dynamic and epic-sounding "You're Older." They grow on you and grow on you, revealing their depths, becoming indispensable.
Speaking of growth, while the title of this album surely refers to motherhood (Martin's a recent mom and writes beautifully about it) and the cycle of life and death, it's also an apt description of how a listener can experience the record itself.
Grow with The Growing Season.
• Bill DeMain
enjoy our 2004 interview with Rebecca