|Written by Jamison Mahto,
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Martha Red Bone
Review by Jamison Mahto
"I am The Syntax Savage riding a prayer in search of the cumulative litany of sin and salvation, looking for forgiveness that is a promise of wind and rain, a look into the depths of my own soul, a look of darkness as I don a game face for the streets of south Minneapolis". Martha Redbone’s new CD Skintalk on the Ipod, pushing off and rolling down the path with destiny as my destination.
Martha sets the tone of the CD with the song “Talk About It”. Her range is terrific, combined with her soulful interpretation of the lyrical sentiment. Martha is right there with the greats in my opinion. “Why can’t we talk about it/What are we gonna do/Here lies the logic that remains today/we know what we’re in for/passion likes no open doors/we’re too young to die./Tryin’ to send a message to stand down/we gotta hurry ‘fore its too late/I only wish that we knew the answer/then maybe we could save the day.”
Lyrically she is very strong and there’s something a little Stylistics in her arrangements. The only thing missing is the chipmunk first tenor voice over top everything else. The similarity is unmistakable to me and paying respects to your mentors is a good thing.
The song “Medicine Man” features a YES contrapuntal intro with the mysterious sound of medicine to it. For a people so in need of healing, Native people need to hear Martha sing. This is an important concept inside the community but also relates to the healing power of love. This song integrates some traditional vocals over top the rock solid playing of a band that cannot be underestimated.
Certainly one of my favorites and the title song of the album, “Skin” features a Steve Vai style guitar intro that moves to a bottom heavy funk groove as Martha sings in the chorus, “Imma skin/Imma skin/in the skin I’m in. /Imma skin/Imma skin and I’m alive/ gonna be the same old skin/‘til the day I die.”
The title of the album indicates a sense of humor about some things. It could infer or refer to a person’s ethnicity but, could also easily be construed as a sexual innuendo, double entendre of sorts meant in only the most romantic sense of the words that she uses.
The song “Children of Love” features Dennis Banks and Gyassi Ross, and starts with a traditional vocable chant in the intro but segues nicely into a low smooth groove when Martha comes in with her vocal. It also includes spoken word over top the groove. How cool is it to include uncle Dennis in this recording?
I recently watched “We Shall Remain” which documented the take over at Wounded Knee and Russell Means tells the story of how the government sent F-16’s to fly over the church and Dennis Banks ran out into the yard, pulled his pistol, and began firing at them.
Russell says, “That’s like the great eagle swooping in for the kill on the little mouse and that mouse is standing there going like this.”
Yeah. Natives do defiance and we do it well. The vocable chanting comes in over top the groove later in the song and it keeps this song vital and in the pocket. We all know how much we owe Dennis Banks and crew, and we’ll never forget.
Martha ends her CD Skintalk with the song “From Now On” which features a very snappy, hot rhythm section that pulls dancing out of my heart and I’ve got the bike bouncin’ down the sunny side of Park Avenue on my way home for another cup of my favorite fuel.
Martha has done what I’ve only been able to dream about. A melding of traditional elements with the funk and groove of classic, blue collar Rhythm and Blues. I have had dreams about this CD. It’s absolutely wonderful stuff and my advice is that you go buy it now.
Martha is a talent so huge and creative that she is the one Native artist I’ve reviewed that has the potential of cross over into the general public’s consciousness. She has the potential to have an impact on the way other musicians view their material – as well as being able to maintain longevity in the music business.
The poetry of sweaty sex, the funk of factory fumes, hand-rolled Cuban cigars, the swinging saxophones of romantic self-determinism on one hand – and the neon, night time madness of Minneapolis streets struck down by the lightning of steel and glass on the other, the R-n-B ride is lower and slower and if angels ride bike in Heaven they’re listening to Martha Redbone’s Skintalk and there are no pot holes in the street.
For more information, see the website: www.myspace.com/martharedbonemusic.
Jamison Mahto: Reporter/Indigenous
In The News, Indigenous In Music CD Review