Evolved is probably Martyn`s most arresting and articulate album to date – a big, bold statement of where he is now, revisiting 15 of his most significant songs and performing and recording them in their evolved, finely honed forms.
This is a strong and stripped back “no hiding place” album that stops you in your tracks – acoustic one-takes with crystal clear vocals and skilful guitar and harmonica playing. Some songs shift along from their originals with added riffs and the most subtle of nuances; others twist off at thumping tangents, barely recognisable from the way they started life.
MOJO – Folk Album of the Month, March 09
Rebirth of the singer songwriter tradition
The folk world has never fully embraced the Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph – perhaps never forgiving him for having a hit with a song about dolphins 15 years ago. That`s a great shame b ecause, with a voice reminiscent of Ralph McTell, Joseph encapsulates many of folk`s old values with stirring songs of social issues and yes, even protest. The “The Welsh Springsteen” tag may be somewhat of a misnomer, but he`s a brave and engaging live performer and this is a courageously sparse, stripped-down and entirely solo work which finds him revisiting and reinventing some of the songs that have helped bring him thus far. Among them, the prostitute`s defiance in Working Mother, the miscarriage of justice resulting in the hanging of Dic Penderyn in 1831 and the bewilderment of the miner`s son in Please Sir are all the more dramatic when delivered with such stark bareness.
Colin Irwin ****
First Loudon Wainwright III did it, now the man who’s been dubbed the Welsh Springsteen has gone back and revisited some of his early songs in the light of the years and experiences since their inception, taking 15 numbers and stripping them back to acoustic guitar and occasional harmonica to reflect how they live and breathe in today’s performances.
Indeed, as illustrated by Kiss The World Beautiful, it’s the nearest ‘studio’ album to come close to the power of his live shows and the heartfelt passion as he digs into the core of the songs’ stories and themes.
Packaged in a card slip case with individual art card lyrics, here are vulnerable self-examinations of faith and doubt like Turn Me Tender and Weight Of The World, laments for lost innocence such as Arizona Dreams, the deeply felt compassion and social commentary of Working Mother and This Being Woman and the political clenched fists and charged anger the fuel The Good In Me Is Dead and Dic Penderyn.
Given a fiery folk ballad intensity, the latter’s one of five of the Welsh-centric songs revisited here and, like the Aberfan disaster Sing To My Soul, the broken redundant miners of Please Sir and the dignity and defiance infusing Proud Valley Boy’s memory of Paul Robeson’s inspirational visit, is hewn from the coal face heritage of his native land.
The fifth from his dragon’s den, the chokingly tender and achingly sad father and son Cardiff Bay brings to a fitting close an album of songs that once were children and have grown to be men.
Mike Davies – October 2008