Album: John Martyn, Heaven and Earth (Hole-in-the-Rain)

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The Independent Culture

John Martyn's valedictory recordings have a suitably weary presence that makes even such legendary laidback soporificos as J J Cale and Leonard Cohen seem positively sprightly by comparison.

You can almost hear the life-force ebbing away as that warm, slurred drawl dissolves into a series of extempore mumbles, the disconnected phrases rarely adding up to a recognisable song. In the opening "Heel of the Hunt", mutterings about the Brothers Grimm and Jay "Tonto" Silverheels ride a gentle funk groove speared with darts of lead guitar; in "Stand Amazed", burbling clavinet and accordion form a reggae-funk setting for Martyn's mild complaint about his dog not knowing his name. The best is left to last, with the singer's protestations that he's still "Willing to Work": "Give me a name, I will live up to it," he sings, as good an epitaph as any.

DOWNLOAD THIS Willing to Work; Heel of the Hunt; Stand Amazed