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Christina Martin

Artist: Christina Martin

Venue: Sheffield, Cafe #9

Date: 14th March 2024

"If you’re a lover of well-written, well-produced, and equally well-performed Pop, Rock, Folk, Country, all enveloped in an Americana sound, then I highly recommend you check out Christina Martin, you won’t be disappointed."



The Cafe #9 is a small coffee shop in Nether Edge, in the salubrious environs of Sheffield. However, by night they rearrange the tables to create a small stage area for a few musicians to perform. When we arrived, we got two seats at the back, near to the entrance but still only less than ten feet from where the artists were performing. I went to get a drink to discover the venue had no license, but I was more than welcome to go to the local supermarket round the corner and bring my own refreshments.

My wife, Carol, asked me if the lady sat a couple of seats away from us was who we’d come to see; the lady in question overheard our conversation and immediately introduced herself as Christina Martin. We spoke for a couple of minutes before she excused herself to take to the makeshift stage with her partner Dale Murray, who provided electric guitar to Martin’s acoustic, plus the occasional backing vocals. I have to confess that I prefer this combination to pure acoustic as it provides a greater depth and feel to the songs.

To say this was the most intimate gig I’ve ever attended would be an understatement; including the two band members, tour manager, and two cafe staff, there was a total of twenty-four of us in attendance.

Set One

The set commenced with ‘It’ll Be Alright’, the title-track from Martin’s 2015 album. The sound was crystal clear, and Christina’s vocals were chillingly beautiful. In between tracks there was some feedback, resulting in all in the venue switching their mobile phones to airplane mode. Carol was concerned it could have been her hearing aid, so she turned it off! Having a fish tank next to the stage is not the norm, although I think the musicians were more troubled by the model clown looking down on them. One of the audience members, James, had the whole show dedicated to him as he travelled all the way up from London following a night shift, having seen the show in The Smoke earlier in the week.

Between each song, the songstress from Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada, told the stories behind their origins. She quit university twenty-four years ago and headed to Austin, Texas to become a nanny. It was whilst in the Lone Star State that she first picked up a guitar realising that there was an audience for female Americana artists. ‘Still In L.A.’ was written about her former touring partner and friend Vincent, who left from the bright lights of Hollywood. Her current partner (on and off stage) was the equally talented Dale Murray, who provided a beautiful electric guitar tone throughout the evening’s proceedings. ‘Two Hearts’ had the crowd quietly singing along (nobody wants to hear my tone-deaf vocals…).

Martin is a very honest an open lady and frequently talked about mental health, including her own. It’s obvious that writing songs is very cathartic as highlighted by ‘Some Days’ about having irrational thoughts and just feeling down, some days. She admitted that she feels that songwriting for her is a very solitary pursuit; however, she has occasionally co-written tracks, including the excellent uplifting ‘Where The Dark Meets The Light’ with Matt Epp, from the 2019 album ‘Wonderful Lie’. Another co-write was with Murray, the Country-esque ‘What I Always Knew’, which featured on the long-running, Canadian comedy-drama television series ‘Heartland’. ‘Guard Your Heart’ from the 2008 ‘Two Hearts’ opus continued in the Country vein and allowed for great solo from Murray. A great way to conclude the first set.

Setlist 1

Set Two

Following a twenty-minute interval where the musicians talked to the audience, the set continued with the upbeat ‘Marina’, juxtaposed to ‘I’m Gonna Die’ written about her pseudo-stepdaughter, who happily is doing well now. ‘Hard Day In June’ featured Murray on the lap steel guitar. What was clearly evident from both the narratives and song lyrics, is that Christina Martin is a very strong-minded person, and a DIY artist who will only work with liked-minded individuals.

The title-track of 2010’s album ‘I Can Too’ preceded ‘Things You Can’t Tell By Looking Her Way’ written for her Mum Cecile, who she obviously loves and appreciates very much. The set concluded with the poignant ‘Golden Tears’ and the hauntingly beautiful ‘Storm’, the title-track from Martin’s latest opus.

Following the end of the near two-hour show, nobody rushed to the exit, instead all taking time to thank Christina and Dale. We chatted to them both for about ten minutes and the lady very generously gifted me three CD’s. She did challenge me to write a bad review; however, as with most Canadians you meet, it’s almost impossible not to like them and say nice things about them. Christina and Dale are no exceptions to the rule.

If you’re a lover of well written, well-produced, and equally well-performed Pop, Rock, Folk, Country, all enveloped in an Americana sound, then I highly recommend you check out Christina Martin, you won’t be disappointed. Looking on The Internet, post, and pre-gig, I’m amazed and privileged that I got to witness such a talented artist in such a cosy venue.

As we left, Carol went to look at the St. Luke’s Charity Shop (she volunteers for the one in Stocksbridge, local to where we live) near to the Café #9. Dale came rushing out as he spotted, I was wearing a Harem Scarem hoodie; he took a picture to send his friend Pete (Lesperance), guitarist of the Canadian band! The latter just rounded off a perfect night’s entertainment of live music.

Setlist 2


Review: Mark Donnelly




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