MARTIN BARRE – Roads Less Travelled (Garage Records GAR0002)

Roads Less TravelledI don’t think I’ve heard Jethro Tull for decades, but one of the highlights of the band’s music was, for me and many others, Martin Barre’s guitar work, so I jumped at the opportunity to check out his solo album Roads Less Travelled, for release on 31st August 2018. The CD features ten excellent songs plus an instrumental, all composed by Martin. As well as Martin’s guitars, banjo, mandolin and mandola, these tracks also feature regular members of the Martin Barre Band Dan Crisp (lead vocals on most tracks), Alan Thomson (bass/fretless bass) and Darby Todd (drums), augmented by Alex Hart and Becca Langsford (lead and backing vocals), Josiah J (percussion and Hammond organ), Aaron Graham (drums) and Buster Cottam (double bass).

If some of the tracks here make me think of 60s/70s West Coast and/or fusion music, that’s by no means a criticism, and it shouldn’t be taken as implying a dated approach. Partly, I think, it’s because Dan Crisp’s versatile vocals sometimes remind me of specific individuals from that era; partly because of the effective use of harmonizing lead guitars; partly because of the super-accurate way the guitars, bass and organ track each other’s lines.

Here’s the track listing.

  1. ‘Lone Wolf’, with the addition of Martin’s mandolin, mandola and banjo, borders on country-rock. And a splendid example it is. Slightly reminiscent of the Eagles or even Buffalo Springfield.
  2. ‘Out Of Time’ alternates some nifty electric riffing and athletic drumming with some gentler acoustic work.
  3. ‘I’m On My Way’ also benefits from Martin’s mandolin and mandola, as well as some tasty electric guitar.
  4. ‘Roads Less Travelled’ features some very nice lead guitar harmonies, and lots more.
  5. Becca Langsford takes over the vocals on ‘Badcore Blues’, a moody song supported by acoustic guitars, drums and bass guitar. A long way from country blues, but captures some of that desperation despite its sophistication.
  6. The nostalgic ‘Seattle’ balances acoustic and electric guitars with spot-on vocal and instrumental harmonies.
  7. ‘For No Man’ features breath-taking interplay between the guitars, fretless bass and organ over sophisticated changes.
  8. ‘(This Is) My Driving Song’ leans towards riff-driven 70s rock. Works for me…
  9. The jazzy ballad ‘You Are An Angel’ features Alex Hart on vocals, backed by Martin’s acoustic guitars and Buster Cottam’s double bass. Very classy.
  10. ‘Trinity’ is the CD’s only instrumental, with Martin playing all instruments. A tour de force, drawing on a wide range of musical influences.
  11. ‘And The Band Played Only For Me’ features Becca Langsford on lead vocals, ably augmented with Alex Hart’s backing vocals. Somewhere on the borderline between jazz and city blues, with lovely guitar and organ. If ‘Trinity’ is my favourite track, this is my favourite vocal track, though ‘You Are An Angel’ isn’t far behind it.

Excellent songs sympathetically sung, a master of the guitar (and no slouch on several other instruments), accompanied by a set of accomplished musicians and singers, and flawlessly produced: this is an album that’s going to stay on my iPod…

David Harley

Artist’s website: https://martinbarre.com/

The Martin Barre Band at The Citadel, Wigan:

Martin Barre announces new solo album – Roads Less Travelled

Martin Barre

Martin Barre, best-known as guitarist in Jethro Tull – one of the biggest selling prog bands of all time, releases his new solo album Roads Less Travelled on Garage Records on 31st August.

Barre has developed his own distinctive style within the framework of Jethro Tull, and his instantly recognizable and original sound form the basis of this album. Roads Less Travelled features eleven original tracks by Barre, which reflect the last 50 years of his esteemed musical career.

Reflecting on the tracks & recording of the album, Barre says “I’ve concentrated on improving my songwriting over the last few years and as a result, I am really pleased with this new CD. Although my playing has a lot of space in the music, I’ve worked a lot harder on the arrangements and lyrics.

My goal is to have a CD that keeps the listener from beginning to end. Roads Less Travelled reflects my belief in taking music somewhere new.”

Barre’s solo on Jethro Tull’s 1971 hit Aqualung has been repeatedly voted as one of the top guitar solos of all time. Barre has been cited as an important influence by many virtuoso players, including Joe Bonamassa, Steve Vai & Jo Satriani and can count the likes of Mark Knopfler and Geddy Lee amongst his many fans.

While all the songs showcase his exceptional electric guitar, acoustic guitar and mandolin playing, the Martin Barre Band also shine throughout. A long-time resident of Devon, Barre’s band features several local musicians:

Dan Crisp (vocals), Alan Thompson (bass/fretless bass), Darby Todd (drums), Becca Langsford (vocals/backing vocals), Josiah J (Percussion/Hammond), Aaron Graham (drums), Alex Hart (vocals/backing vocals) Buster Cottam (“stand up” bass).

Barre was the guitarist for rock band Jethro Tull from 1969 – 2012. Jethro Tull have sold an estimated 60 million albums worldwide, with 11 gold and 5 platinum albums among them and were described by Rolling Stone as “one of the most commercially successful progressive rock bands”. Barre appeared on all but their debut album during his 33 year stint with Tull and is the longest-serving member after Ian Anderson.

For four decades, Barre’s career focused on Jethro Tull but in the 1990s Barre began to perform as a solo artist and has since released seven solo studio albums. On these recordings, Barre combined rock and guitar-oriented fusion in his sound.

Martin’s guitar playing has earned him a high level of respect and recognition; he was voted 25th best solo ever in the USA and 20th best solo ever in the UK for his playing on Aqualung. His playing on the album Crest Of A Knave earned him a Grammy award in 1988.

In addition to his Jethro Tull and solo work, Martin has worked live with many other artists including: Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Gary Moore, Jo Bonamassa and Chris Thompson and has shared a stage with such legends as Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

Artist’s website: martinbarre.com

While we wait for the new material, here’s Martin and his band playing a classic – ‘Crossroads’: