REVIEW: Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar “The Reckless One” is One of the Best of 2020


Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar – The Reckless One

With a nice muscular vocal by Canadian vocalist Samantha Martin & subdued but punchy horns & soulful Hammond organ the band Delta Sugar is superb. It’s planted in rich retro-sounding soil but infused with generous doses of modern Stax-Soulfinger notes.

A pinch of 70s powerhouse horn-driven band Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan but Samantha has her own melodically fueled soul-baring raunch. She doesn’t push the showboat that often gets in the way of such blues/gospel-inflected soul music. Her’s relies on feeling & authenticity instead of bombastic vocalizing. Bob Dylan’s oldie “Meet Me in the Morning” is the sole cover & rendered sufficiently embodied with grit & spirit. Quite good.

The Juno Award-nominated The Reckless One by Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar (drops Nov 20 – Gypsy Soul Records). 12-tracks of steamy, blues-spiced soul, blistering heart tightening ballads. For some, the voice may be too raw (“I’ve Got a Feeling”) but the scouring makes it indistinguishable, it comes through the notes & performance with verve. Is she Mahalia Jackson? No. Is she Janis Joplin? Not yet. But she has style — a voice with authority.

The stellar “Sacrifice,” was fired off in a classic 60s girl-group mold: The Shangri-Las & the Ronettes. It’s remarkable. What a simmering tune with that Ronnie Spector glory gliding between Samantha’s lips in her own indomitable style. “So I Always Know,” is also an urgent melody sung with 60s angst but with Ms. Martin’s modern-day dazzling technique.

There’s a delicacy in the taste brought to the work by these musicians who have uncanny expertise with their retro approach polished with 2020 fluidity & skill. With “Pass Me By,” Samantha shuffles the cards & deals rousing reminisces to an older audience who remember the 60s group The Toys’ (“May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone” & “A Lover’s Concerto”). Radiant. The tasty brass blares with a charging bass in a wonderful groove.

It’s a big band: Curtis Chaffey (guitar), Ian McKeown (bass), Dani Nash, Will Fisher & Adam Warner (drums on various tracks), Jeff Heisholt (Hammond organ), Ross Hayes Citrullo (acoustic & lead guitar), Andrew Moljgun (keyboards/piano/Hammond/Wurlitzer/Rhodes/Sax/Horn arrangements), Jimmy Bowskill (Lead guitar cut 4/strings cut 7), Emily Ferrell & Tom Richards (trombones), James Rhodes & Brian Walters (trumpets), Sherie Marshall & Tafari Anthony (BG vocals/BG vocal arrangements).

Problem? The art doesn’t properly represent the music on the CD. It’s cool artwork – but it’s not an accurate representation of the music. Flowery, with butterflies, birds, flora & fauna but this has a musical dynamic far & away from this. This art is more for Judy Collins.

Ms. Martin’s raw juke joint voice is the charm – the arrangements & band sparkle. The songs throughout are engaging (“Who Do You”). Even the less full-bodied songs have a quality, vibrancy & cohesiveness.

One of the best of 2020 – no doubt. Absolutely no doubt. The 44-minute CD was produced by Renan Yildizdogan (percussion/mellotron/keyboards/vibes) & Darcy Yates.


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