Today, we consume stories in many forms—but oftentimes they are quick snippets of lives unfolding on social media. Has the art of storytelling been lost?
Take a listen to Jeffrey Martin. His story-driven music takes its place in a long tradition of the musician as the storyteller. In just a few bars of “Sad Blue Eyes,” his voice—pure gravel and soul—transports the listener through a masterful combination of character, setting and imagery.
It’s no wonder his lyrical content shapes such a strong image when Martin himself has clearly conjured the world of the song so vividly in his mind. “[‘Sad Blue Eyes’ is] about the war between youth [and] idealism, and the weight of reality that comes with some situations,” he explains. “The protagonist believes wholeheartedly that his experience, his love for [his girl], and his plans are different from everyone who has failed around him in this small town. It’s his naiveté that is both his saving grace and his downfall, in that it allows him to believe in and experience love, but it also sets him up to be trapped him in a cycle he is unaware of.”
As a musician, the art of expressing a story through performance comes from both vision and practice. “Spending time with Jeffrey during the session, it was instantly obvious that he is incredibly dedicated to his craft as a storyteller,” says Matt Greco, studio owner and producer at The Rye Room. “While we were finalizing set up, he strapped on his guitar and walked around the studio playing the songs. I think for any artist, the guitar provides that safe space where you can let a story unfold. It’s clear that it works for him, as he is able to deliver an incredibly soulful performance that really paints a picture for his listeners.”
“The intimate setting of The Rye Room made it easy to showcase Martin’s storytelling prowess in his performance,” adds videographer Merlin Showalter.
Martin is currently hard at work on a new album due out this summer via Fluff & Gravy Records. He’ll be crowdfunding this effort so look for the launch of a Kickstarter in early April. Next up, he’ll soon be touring in Europe and on the East Coast, with shows in Portland starting in June.