Martin Sexton's Way

This indie artist does the writing, playing and recording, all on his own label

August 03, 2006|By SAM SESSA | SAM SESSA,SUN REPORTER

Four years ago, singer/songwriter Martin Sexton left Atlantic to form his own record label. He wanted to own his music, answer to himself and bring in a little more money.

Sexton named his new indie label Kitchen Table and promptly cut Live Wide Open, a double album of live tunes. Plenty of touring followed. Last year, he released a record of sparsely produced Christmas songs called Camp Holiday. Again, more touring. (Sexton plays two shows at Rams Head Tavern on Monday).

But after four years, Sexton is only now writing an album of original material.

"It's been a long time coming," he said. "In that time I've been busy touring and enjoying life - enjoying the fruits of my labor. Being a father, being a lover of life, good food, antiques, wilderness, fishing. It's been a nice, fruitful time."

But still a long time. Sexton had no trouble writing the instrumentation, melodies and arrangements for the new album, but he wrestled with the words.

"The music comes like nothing," Sexton said. "For me, it's like rolling out of bed - coming up with a melody or a harmony or a groove or a lick. But [with] the lyrics, I'm good at making stuff up that sounds like it kind of makes sense, but if you really look at it and listen to it, it doesn't. That's the hard part for me - making it into something that makes sense and is listenable."

With all his previous albums, Sexton said, he penned the songs, tested them live and then went into the studio. This time, he grew tired of fleshing out the lyrics and recorded the tunes without vocals. Most of the tracks are band-oriented, with drums, bass, organs, guitars and vocals, though Sexton said he wants to add one or two songs of just himself and a guitar.

Sexton usually performs solo live but might add a few instruments to the onstage roster when he tours for the new record.

"I'd like to at least do a year of touring with something that sort of represents this record," Sexton said. "I might go out with the band and the bus and all that. I want to try and capture what's on this record in the live show in parts of next year's touring."

Sexton gave himself a month to finish writing the lyrics, which means a new album could be out this fall. Since he's already got the music recorded, the words are coming - maybe not as fast as he'd like, but quicker than before.

"I chip away at them," Sexton said. "It's easier for me - I think it's kind of cool actually. I'm making some songs that I would never write on paper. I think it makes for a different approach that I needed desperately. ... A fresh approach to songwriting."

Martin Sexton plays Rams Head Tavern 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $40. Call 410-268-4545 or go to ramsheadtavern.com. The tavern is at 33 West St. in Annapolis. To hear Martin Sexton, visit martinsexton.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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