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Toby Martin - Love'sShadow

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Toby Martin’s solo debut has the same wistful air as his work with Youth Group. But what differentiates Love’s Shadow is that it’s grounded in more narrative and observational vignettes. These star a lonely romantic everyman, which could be the result of the inspiration he received after reading stories by Helen Garner and Graham Greene.

The 11 tracks feature little percussion, with Martin’s electric guitar swapped for a piano. The result is a collection of soft, slow-burning ballads that exude a rather plain domesticity, despite tackling some rather complex emotions and distant geographical points. ‘Nylex Nights’ starts positively enough with upbeat piano and strings while society’s degenerates are praised for having their lives all sorted out. On ‘Postcards From Surfers’ Martin takes us to the seedy hotel where they all could live, while the music rumbles and broods like a Lou Reed number.

Toby Martin has been likened before to Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. It’s a rather apt comparison, with both artists showing an equal knack for coupling pop melodies with mature, literate words.

7/10 stars

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