Canadian singer-songwriter Christina Martin has returned with her latest and most daring album, Storm. It follows previous offerings such as It’ll Be Alright (2015) and Impossible To Hold (2018) and builds on what she’s best at: captivating storytelling set to a backdrop of Americana-style guitar riffs and soaring keys but this time incorporating more of an orchestral edge in parts.
Opener Little Princess sets the tone for the album with its gorgeous strings layered over plucky guitars and a peppy, up-tempo beat. We’re introduced to Martin’s soft vocal with its southern Americana-esque twang. The addition of orchestral sounds to the track nods towards a new avenue of sound for the singer, more of which we’re introduced to as the album unfolds.
Stay With Me opens as a pared-back heartfelt ode which grows and swells with the emotive lyrics. Martin sings of the uncertainty within the world we’re living in, the lyrics being beautiful in their rawness and complexity but also with an inevitable undertone of melancholy. She describes the track as “the song that motivated the album” and listening to it certainly feels like rising up towards the crest of a wave or that initial gust that came to be the beginning of Storm. Lyrics such as “once time was a gift, now it feels like a curse. Stay with me, stay with me” encompass the feelings of longing and uncertainty within the track.
In Control with its sleek and alluring guitar riff as effortless as Christina’s honed vocals was the second single from Storm. The drum like a heartbeat sets the pace for the track with Martin’s harmonies adding a sensual touch. Lyrics such as “When I go, I always come back. Two nights of debauchery is just the thing I need to bring me back to life” alludes to the internal tug of war we have between wanting to have control over our life vs wanting to let loose and break free from our self-imposed shackles. The theme of two opposing desires colliding is carried through in the melody as the brooding verses jostle for dominance over the more delicate chorus. A husky, moody vibe prevails but the Americana-esque guitar riffs ensure that Christina stays true to her folk-inflected roots.
The pace is taken down a notch with Some Days, a gorgeous ballad where Martin’s vocal blends effortlessly with gentle keys and subtle strings. When the beat kicks in the track is really bought to life and the strings soar before transitioning into title track Storm. The lines “Storm, thank you for coming along. Storm, came to shake up what I thought was strong” build and repeat as the strings and goosebump-inducing guitar solo reach their crescendo like a wave breaking on the shore with destructive but glorious power. There’s a bittersweet edge to the track which is another theme that weaves its way through the album.
Inside The Mirror possesses a dark, slightly sinister edge to it with its tribal-sounding drum beats and brooding synths. The unnerving opening lines of “He is watching me in bed, from somewhere up above, I’m paralyzed with fear. I feel helpless and alone, landline’s off the hook, can’t hide inside the mirror” sets the scene for what could become a twisted tale as we let our imaginations run wild with what the meaning behind the story could be.
Meeting Place is a subdued ballad where Martin’s vocal shines with just minimal gentle strings and occasional electronic manipulation for accompaniment before we’re launched into Austin: A carefree meeting of pop and country. The bringing together of funky strings with plucky guitars and a catchy hook make it a stand out party track.
Meant To Get Us Through presents Martin at her most vulnerable when she sings “Thank you for showing me I’m in the wrong place, that the love I left is what I need to chase. This time we spent was only ever meant to get us through, meant to get us through.” It’s a powerful track with a stripped-back accompaniment so that Martin’s vocal and message can shine brighter.
The guitars are brought back in Still in L.A. where we’re treated to a rockier vibe and discover a grittier edge to Martin’s vocal. The achingly cool electric guitar solos fused with the strings is a wonderful collision of genres.
Storm is brought to a close with Healed, another ballad that begins with muted tones but grows and gains energy, and which brings the album full circle. The choir singing “We shall be healed, shall be healed, we will heal” is a striking and anthemic end to Martin’s most distinguished album to date.
When speaking of Storm, Christina Martin said “The songs are reflections of the storms I’ve experienced in my life – trauma, loss, fear, and through trial and error finding gratitude through transformation, acceptance, forgiveness, and love. So, I guess it’s about healing, the never ending work of learning how to love, let go, recover, and be open to new things.” Powerful messages that will resonate with many listeners and further solidify Martin’s position as one of Canada’s singer-songwriters to watch.
Storm is available to stream now. Find out more about Christina Martin here and have a listen to Storm below.