Reviews

Let Martin Know your thoughts

What he says is true - he is Britain's best kept secret - but, if there's any justice in this world, that won't be the case for much longer!

For a start, he's an excellent songwriter, mixing intelligent rhymes with catchy, memorable tunes and putting them over in a vocal style which is neither too American nor too British - just perfect!

In addition, he's obviously spent a good deal of money and thought on the production and the packaging. The backing musicians, including Albert Lee on lead guitar, are among the UK's best and the artwork is as good as, if not better than, anything from a major label.

Congratulations to Martin for producing one of the best UK albums I've heard in a long while.

Jim Marshall BCMA/Online Country Magazine

Country and English/Braveface Albums

Martin smith lives in the Lake District and writes and sings Country. There are six years between these two CDs. On the most recent Braveface, he hired some very good musicians including Albert Lee on guitar and Richard Nelson on steel – he is part of the Daniel O'Donnell band. This is gentle music, all his apart from one co-write with his daughter Martina on Blue. It is very easy on the ear, Martin's singing style brought to mind the music of the late great Hank Snow with story songs with swing – listen to Sleeping It Off. The album is almost designed for jukeboxes with the longest track just 3.40 and all 12 totalling 38 minutes. It is worth watching out for him.

Jim Duncan, Cross Country Magazine, UK

I was planning to feature a Bear Family CD of songs by 'Ramblin' Jack Elliot on my 3rd February programme but I have postponed it in favour of Martin's album. It arrived today and I am very impressed by it. I will feature four of the tracks next week and others at intervals to follow. I have been presenting the Manx Radio Country programmes since 1977 and I receive a lot of sub standard stuff that I don't feel to be good enough for broadcast. Martin's, on the other hand, is top flight and I wish him every success in his pursuit of a world wide following.

David Callister - Manx Radio (Isle of Man)

After Time Drinking Album

After Time Drinking has 12 original songs all written by Martin, which he has to be commended for. If I was asked to classify this album it would be for the most part an easy listening collection of predominantly melancholy songs intermingled with some up tempo, as with the number, 'Face The World', before moving onto the sad 'Emptiness' which, if you have lost someone close to you, will leave you with a tinge of sadness. Still keeping the tissues handy we move onto 'The Loveliness Of You' and 'If I Had Wings'. The song, 'Walk Softly' is anything but softly and a complete oxymoron if there was one as we are catapulted into a punchy stratosphere, lifting the mood before the album finishes with the title track, 'After Time Drinking'. Martin Smith is said to be Britain's best kept secret, perhaps its time to share him with everyone!

Rob Davis, Cross Country Magazine UK

The three things, more than any, which tends to spoil many CDs by British country vocalists are the often pedestrian instrumental backings, unimaginative musical arrangements and poor production qualities. With a few notable exceptions, you can spot a UK-made album a mile off, so it was rather pleasing to receive this CD from Cumbria-based singer-songwriter, Martin Smith, whose musical career goes back to the old Silk Cut Festivals at Wembley and the Morecambe Country Music Festival in 1990, so he's no newcomer to the game.

Everything about this album is just right. The songs are strong and varied, the backing musicians, which include Albert Lee, Tom Tyson and Richard Nelson amongst others, are top quality and Martin's rich voice is ideally suited to the material, all of which is self-penned.

It's obvious that no expense has been spared in packaging of the album, either. Despite the fact that this is an 'own label' effort, you could easily be led to believe that it was a major company production.

Having said all that, Martin Smith remains a name that few outside his own area have heard of, and that's a shame.

British Country Music Association Bulletin CD Review

Britain's Best Kept Secret Album

I have now listened to Martin Smith's new album 'Britain's Best Kept Secret', I thoroughly enjoyed it, great songs, well sung and very well produced.

Allan Watkiss - UK Country Radio

The room came alive when Martin Smith from Cumbria performed. This was the first artist of the weekend that had the audience shouting for more even before he finished his set! I would put him a cross between George Hamilton IV and Tony Goodacre but with a V8 engine under the bonnet. His original songs went down an absolute treat.

Leigh Moss, Cross Country Magazine, UK (Bristol)

Martin Smith has been writing and performing his own songs for more than 30 years and has now released the fourth collection, he has titled Britain's Best Kept Secret.

Martin has shown the way that British artists should go by using top artists and musicians on his album to produce quality sound.

He features one of the world's leading Country guitarists in Albert Lee and the pedal steel player, Richard Nelson from Daniel O'Donnell's band. Along with other outstanding musicians, they offer an excellent backing to Martins songs.

The songs themselves demonstrate a wide range of styles from the contemporary Country rocker, Mid-Life Crisis, through the shuffle, Neville's Song to the two step, One For The Dancers and the gentle emotion of You Me And The Sea.

His vocals are laid back and tuneful, full credit should go to him for putting together not only a set of original songs played by quality musicians, backed by quality singers but a well produced album which deserves a great deal of success.

I hope that more British artists follow his lead and show that we can produce albums to match those from Nashville.

Alan Perkins, Up Country Magazine UK

I would like to congratulate local singer songwriter from Cumbria, Martin Smith after he reached number one in the British charts and number four in the European charts with his song, When One Door Closes. His previous submissions to Hotdisc reached number three in the British charts and number six in the European charts with Braveface. Martin has been song writing for many years and at last he has received some additional recognition for his work. He has, over time, been invited on many radio stations. In Scotland he is known as 'Britain's best kept secret'. His recordings are always top quality and backed by quality musicians such as Albert Lee.

Jean Berry, Cross Country Magazine UK

Brave Face album

Here's a wonderfully outstanding, new-to-me, vocal talent. If you like powerful, modern country-crooning laced with passion and honesty, Martin is your man. A Cumbria, England native, Martin is no mean songwriter either. Here's 12 little self-penned gems from the very talented Martin who I'm convinced deserves wider circulation so I gladly recommend his heart-rendering music to you accordingly. Clearly, tried-and-tested (in more ways than one), he's fully paid his dues, I'm sure. He comes up with an engaging musical statement that is wholly down-to-basics and conjures up the best of the genre in his individual and independent stance. Country fans should check this guy out. The top-class session includes Albert Lee (guitars), Richard Nelson (steel) and such.

Paul Davis NCM Radio

I recently received the latest album, Britain's Best Kept Secret from Martin Smith, which has 11 brand new songs and one remastered track harnessing the talents of Albert Lee, Richard Nelson (Daniel O'Donnell's steel player) Tom Tyson (Freddie Starr/Gene Pitney's bass player) and local musicians John Marcangelo, Steve Falcon, Guy Lancaster and Duggie Gemmel all contributing to this radio-friendly album. I have received good feedback from my two Country music radio shows with tracks such as 'Wood For The Trees' and 'One Door Closes' but my pick of the album is 'Wrong Place Right Time' with some great guitar playing from Albert Lee. For me it's great to see a British Country music artist striving to be original, promoting his own songs worldwide and not relying on cover songs to sell his albums.

Doug Parish, Cross Country Magazine UK

An original British country songwriter with top quality songs. Martin Smith from Cumbria has been around the UK country music scene for more than thirty-five years either as a band member or a solo act. In the early days he tended to concentrate on cover songs, but in recent years he has developed his craft as a skilled songwriter and this is his fourth album of original material. The first thing you notice is that unlike way too many UK country vocalists, he doesn't attempt to sound 'American' or put on that phoney 'mid-Atlantic' accent that has been the bane of British country music for years. He has put together a fine studio band of top-class players creating a clean and uncluttered sound that is definitely country, but again doesn't 'ape' the current Nashville country sounds. I was suitably impressed by the understated contributions by Richard Nelson on Dobro, pedal and lap steel, when you add in such fine players as Albert Lee, Tom Tyson, Guy Lancaster, Charlie Hawkins, Duggie Gemmell and John Marcangelo then you end up with a top quality sound.

That then brings us to the songs. My initial reaction was workmanlike rather than jaw-dropping. But then as I played the album more and more, the subtle little lyrical touches, the clever ideas all started to infiltrate and I began to recognise that here's a writer with firstly his own style, and secondly the creator of songs with the kind of universal appeal that has been the bedrock of country music since the first commercial recordings were made more than eighty years ago. I especially connected with Mid-Life Crisis (self-explanatory really), the beautiful The Loveliness Of You and The Wood For The Trees, the latter reminding me of Canadian Dick Damron. These are the kinds of songs that would suit old-timers like Don Williams, Irish balladeers such as Daniel O'Donnell and relatively new boys on the block like Josh Turner or Brad Paisley—praise indeed. Originality in British country music is something I have always heartily endorsed and Martin Smith might be something of a veteran, but he still has much to offer. Seek this out and enjoy this superb. '4 star rated album.'

Alan Cackett Maverick Magazine

Every so often there is a CD that comes along and it has that 'X' factor feel about it and this one from Martin Smith is in that category. It is the fourth original album from the six he has produced, with 11 of the 12 songs being brand new, with just one re-mastered track.

With Martin's fine vocals and musicians of the highest order such as the legendary Albert Lee on lead guitar, this Cumbrian based singer has a lot to offer our Country fans. The whole package is just spot on and I am sure Martin Smith will certainly be a name to look out for around our Country music scene. I can't wait to find out how much more Britain's best kept secret has to offer.

I loved all the songs but stand out tracks for me were 'You Me And The Sea' and 'The Loveliness Of You'. This is definitely one CD to add to any Country music fan's collection.

Dave Walker, Cross Country Magazine, UK