Carrie Martin is a singer and songwriter and acoustic guitarist from Hull, who'd remained outside my radar for some unaccountable reason until fairly recently when I caught her in live performance and was much taken with her presence, her air of accomplishment and complete confidence in her own abilities.
Carrie tells her own back-story in this album's liner-notes: she was writing her own songs at age 13, then had a spell fronting a rock band before "giving it all up for motherhood" - which turned into a 25-year career-break! Then, a chance meeting rekindled Carrie's childhood obsession with music, and a magical, unstoppable sequence of events ensued - not least her being introduced to master guitarist Gordon Giltrap, who has become both mentor and inspiration and a great friend to Carrie. So much so that he's helped to produce this album (Carrie's second) as well as contributing two excellent songs of his own and playing on one of the other tracks too. Oh, and he's called on other impeccably talented musician friends including Ric Sanders and Oliver Wakeman for occasional, telling contributions to the album.
These folks are fully in tune with the gloriously affirmative vision and thoughtful meaningful-contemporary-acoustic quality in Carrie's songwriting, as indeed are the contributions of the remaining guest musicians (notably John Shepherd's brilliant lead guitar on Sand, Sea, Sky and the powerful ballad Taken; and Carol Withers' flute on Jack). But my remarking on the high quality of the musicianship on What If… should not be taken as an indication that it overshadows Carrie's individual musical personality - it doesn't - or in any way implying a by-default negative observation on the quality of her songs, her own finely-graded guitar accompaniment, or her beauteous singing voice with its assured grasp of phrasing and expression (one can forgive the occasional trace of mannerism or aspirant). Maybe some of her songs take a little longer to assimilate and require attentive listening beyond the notes, but you can take it as read that Carrie is a skilled communicator, and her music will always yield readily-accessible pleasure. It transpires that What If… was actually released over a year ago, but happily Carrie already has a new album in the pipeline, which will doubtless be eagerly awaited.
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