British veteran’s impeccable Italian job marks a career high.

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Eddie Martin’s facility as a player, bandleader and composer is given full rein in this perfectly prepared and served banquet of blues.

Befitting the handsome theatre where the album was recorded, the rapturous 16-piece band excel in hatching the range of hybrids that are Martin’s calling card. From the National guitar-stoked Charley Patton revamp of Five Things to the harp-wailing, suitably cataclysmic Watch The Weather, the dynamic interplay is a joy.

Brilliant Nigerian percussionist Olalekan Babalola (Cassandra Wilson) deserves special mention: a freewheeling master of restraint, his playing underpins this loose-limbed, expansive ensemble and he’s the very pulse of a percolating and primed band. A slide master and electric warrior, Martin is in exalted vocal form, capturing a Stonesy gospel vibe with righteous female chorus on Ingolstadt.

Martin claims this is the best in his 13-album career. It’s hard to argue.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.