Reviews

2UIBestow "Make Daylight"  March 2009

Make Daylight is the 7th studio album from Martin Finke since his home recorded debut in 1999 and it's a superb album. The much travelled performer having lived in Galway, Boston and now residing in San Francisco has created an album worthy of your attention. Martin has a distinct voice which finds me attentive to every lyric within the various soundscapes on the album. Those lyrics are mini compositions about love, relationships, motivations, despair and life amongst many other themes. The 11 tracks range from Martin's take on a singer-songwriter song such as 'Make You Sing' and 'Bad Wine' to the electronic pop of 'Stay' and 'Brendan Gardens'.

To me, an album becomes special if you can connect with the album either musically or lyrically. Make Daylight for me at present is that album. This album is a must if your a Jape or David Kitt fan while it could easily be the male equivalent to Beth Orton's Trailer Park album. Another obvious comparison to Martin Finke is Jose Gonzales. Fingers crossed Sony grabs hold of Make Daylight for future advertisements.

Martin Finke - Make Daylight: 10/12

 

Cluas.com - "Crown Time" - July 2005

Review Snapshot:
Crown Time is another sublime collection from the left field Martin Finke and confirms him as the most criminally ignored song writer active on the Irish scene today.

The CLUAS Verdict? 8.5 out of 10.

Full review:
It really is a travesty of justice that Martin Finke continues to scrape together audiences of barely three figures while others in this country have gone on to take centre stage in the various large barns around the capital city. I guess that's what comes of ploughing a lonely musicky furrow more akin to the great underground song writers such as Oldham, Eitzel or Kozelek than to the sing-along strummers that the Irish take to so readily.

Mr Finke has an ever strengthening catalogue of work behind him and Crown Time marks his third consecutive album of some note. His songs frequently eschew the normal verse-chorus-verse structure to create weaving poetic tales, quite often of life in the Connemara homeland.

The music is formed around his lyrics and owes as much to turn of the 90s indie guitar bands as current day acoustic troubadours, albeit at a less frenetic pace. Throw a bit of electronic noodling and some samples in to the pot, stir around a bit, serve (preferably through headphones) and what you have is an original talent worth digesting slowly.

Whereas 2001's beautiful Let It Ring works best when taken as an holistic experience, 2003's Untended Stories contains twelve gems, as easily appreciated individually as in their entirety. Crown Time sits neatly in between the two. The dreamy acoustic based 'Aflame' sets the scene perfectly, veering off in to the minor keys just when we don't expect it. The distinctive brush style of Joss Moorkens' drumming is again evident on this track and through much of the album, providing the appropriate base to the vocal meanderings of Finke. Radio single 'Take Care' offers us the first substantial evidence of the programming which further fleshes out the music before Crown Time's first act closes with new live favourite, 'Imaginary Wedding', a simple but stunning lullaby that shows how Finke's song writing has progressed.

After the more conventional formation of the album's first four songs, the middle segment produces the feel of a sonic soundscape centred around instrumental track 'Your Only Love' with its subtle electronica and sampling. This section culminates in the quite wonderful "Smash and Grab" which includes Lara Norris's sole contribution on backing vocals and summarises all that is good and different about the writing and delivery of Martin Finke.

Album closer proper 'The People who Know' is an eight minute epic which builds slowly and completely immerses the listener in the soaring lyrics and gentle instrumentation. This song could go on for another eight minutes and you still wouldn't want it to end. After this, the cover of 'The Weight' feels tacked on and slightly out of place, even though the quality control button has not been tampered with.

As always with Martin Finke, his songs demand that the listener puts in some effort. The gold pot at the end of the rainbow is sitting there waiting to be discovered: his voice, his lyrics and the timeless drifting vibe of the music are ample rewards for the effort. It is a crying shame that the challenging nature of his song writing probably means that those small but loyal audiences will never swell enough to make him a living out of what he does so well."

Joe Gleeson

 

The Lobby Bar profile - Martin Finke

"Clifden-bred Boston-based songwriter Martin Finke makes his last flying visit to Ireland before moving home for good this summer. Over the past four years he has worked hard in his room writing and recording four handcrafted albums, as well as building audiences alongside his friend Josh Ritter. Martin is out to stake his claim on more Irish audiences, and equipped with plaintive, ferocious songs (think David Kitt with Van Morrison's temperament) and with a video on No Disco under his belt, he is well on his way."

 

Hot Press  "Untended Stories"  June 3 2003


Although Martin Finke’s fourth album proper is called Untended Stories, a more apt title might have been Bar-tended Stories. A graduate of the Oldham-Eitzel school of maudlin singing/songwriting, at least half of the twelve songs here mention bacchanalian excess of some form or other. It’s hardly surprising. Born in Germany, Finke moved to Clifden’s “burly coast” at the age of four, spending his formative years in a bilingual house on the bog and presumably boozing his way through the harsh Connemara winters. Later he emigrated to Boston, another hard-drinking Irish town.

Both locations – or public houses within – backdrop many of these songs. In ‘Lament For A Locksmith’ he sings, “There’s a house in old Clifden/Where I’ve spent many nights/And the men there are wise men.” He sums up the typical Irish immigrant experience hilariously on ‘US Coast’ – “Who wants to see the US coast/From the inside of a pub?/I do.” They’re not all boozy, barstool ballads but, relatively upbeat album opener ‘Weight Of Mountains’ aside, there’s nothing that would tempt you onto a dance floor.

Finke plays most of the instruments himself (guitar, keyboards and accordion), though the Redneck Manifesto’s Richie Egan and the Dudley Corporation’s Joss Moorkens contribute bass and drums respectively.

If Finke is looking for commercial success – though I suspect he’s not overly worried – he needs to learn a little more about hooks and melodies. I’ve listened to it about five times for the purposes of this review, and nothing has fully taken hold.

Thus Untended Stories is a worthy, well-crafted work of art from a seriously gifted and poetic songwriter. But poptastic it ain’t.

Olaf Tyaransen
Rating: 6½ / 10

 

cluas.com - Whelan's, August 19 2002

It feels somehow apt that this gig took place at the end of (our non-existent) summer. At a time when shadows would normally be lengthening as the chilly evenings took hold of the days, the two musicians who played tonight gave us true, simple music to wrap ourselves in, and make us feel warm inside.

Both Ian and Martin travelled for tonight's gig. Martin having come home from his stay in the States, and Ian up from Killarney. The sense of place in both their songs is strong, identifiable markers of the influence held by Dublin and Kerry respectively. This connection meant the two performers complimented each other, and blended together giving us images of domesticity, and of love.

Ian played first, his distinctive voice and evocative lyrics grabbing the audiences attention. One song (which had echoes of Dylan’s “Last Thoughts on Woody Gutherie” in parts) was recited instead of sung, as he claimed to have never found the chords to suit it… The actions of a brave man, as Whelan's audiences generally aren’t known for their patience and attention span. However (as throughout the whole evening) the only sounds that could be heard apart from the musicians were pints being pulled, and cars passing outside.

Martin's unassuming manner on stage belies his strong imagery. Wordy songsmiths tend to be frowned upon these days, but Martin has an ability to use phrases that astound you, for example “a few more years of this and my life will be full of untended upended stories that straddle a decade of ruin” from ‘Lament for a locksmith’. He used his lengthy set to good effect, taking songs from his various releases such as Cast in Old Cast Iron and Let It Ring. He was also unafraid to throw in covers diverse as a Lou Barlow song, the traditional “Parting Glass” (sung acapella with Lara), and the closing song of the evening, the Wedding Present’s Octopussy. Martin hopes to have his next album (studio based this time apparently!) out by February 2003. Keep an eye out for it.

Ciaran Wrenn

 

Northeast Performer (Boston)

Irish songwriter Martin Finke's Let It Ring displays his remarkable ability to express unresolveable conflicts with simplicity and patience.

Any attempt to pigeonhole Finke with folk-influenced singer/songwriters fails, as the louder moments in Let It Ring betray the enormous influence that such bands as My Bloody Valentine and The Wedding Present have on his songwriting.

Let It Ring is a subtle, personal masterpiece to be appreciated quietly, preferably on headphones, and better yet during a lonely walk through a rainy city at night.

 

The Event Guide (Dublin)

Let It Ring is the third solo release from Galway-bred, Boston-based musician Martin Finke. An unassuming slice of magic that, given the chance, will kindly cosy it’s way into your record collection for good. With a sprinkling of the likes of Bonnie Billy, Van the Man and Hood added to Martin’s delicious blend of gentle poetry, there’s no finer way to ease yourself into winter. “How Late It’s Grown” delivers a whispered warmth and delightful simplicity. “Bargain Song” offers a charming mix of distortion and melody while setting the tone of lyrical beauty for the whole record. And the gently uplifting sound of “Rain Cloud” is, quite simply, good for the soul. Indie-rock minus the awkward irony, beard-stroking self-indulgence or even a hint of self-importance. Perfect.

 

Eclectic Honey - "Let It Ring"

Yet another release from one of the hardest working men in Irish music, less than 12 months after his previous longplayer. Thankfully the quality/quantity concept holds no weight here, in fact it couldn't be further from reality. With each record Finke seems to gain in confidence and craft, with Let it Ring proving to be his best yet. Opener How Late it's grown is reminiscent of all those Friday nights down the pub that deep down you know can't last forever. A New Heart Open is a pinnacle so early on, with Finke's trademark poetic and rhythmic lyrics that melt into a beautifully optimistic and uplifting refrain that will leave you singing "This loving thing we've got, your arms are like a raincoat" everywhere you go for the next three days. And who says all the best music is always melancholic?

Bargain song is blessed with those famous RHP-esque drums and a wealth of emotion. Finke finds even more of his own space with the tender and wonderfully complex instumental Esprit de Down. Rowboat and Weather both have the potential to be live anthems that people will still be shouting drunken requests for in 5 years time, while Give me Writers Block is effortlessly brilliant. The finest moment on a flawless album though has to be Raincloud. Much loved by his MP3-dowloading fans and live audiences even before Let it Ring's arrival, the song acted as a fitting prelude that encapsulated the hot summer months of 2001. It's one of those songs that takes the listener through a hundred different emotions in the space of about 5 minutes. Let it Ring captures all the feelings that you want it to, so let in it and you won't be disappointed. Easily one of the finest records of the year.

 

cluas.com - Let It Ring (Martin Finke)

Boston based Martin Finke deals solely in what Michael Stipe calls vomit-songs. These aren’t songs that will make you physically ill but rather songs that spew effortlessly from the gut needing little in terms of gloss and sonic gentrification. Each conception is quickly captured on record from his home studio in the height of purity and sent out, hooks slung, into the harsh world.

Finke’s strengths, as displayed on his latest album 'Let It Ring', lie in his bashful and uncomplicated nature. This is most in evidence on both 'Jetplane' and 'Saint Bed', two simple and unobtrusive pieces set to a down-tempo beat which are given a more than adequate introduction from 'Esprit de Dawn' - a gentle instrumental that becomes gradually more harrowing as it transpires.

It’s not all easy listening, however -' A New Heart Open' is an odd one, arranged into seemingly hesitant couplets, sounding like it was off the cuff before reaching a triumphant climax with the declaration, “This loving thing we’ve got / your arms are like a raincoat.” This is exactly what’s needed for the elemental 'Weather', with its backdrop of driving rain. The opener, 'How Late It’s Grown' and ender 'Raincloud' will provide the magnet for most despite being very different in approach – the prior being a two minute, more instant offering and the latter being an epic, enhanced by the enchanting vocals of Lara Norris. The rest of the album must feel very comfortable being sandwiched between these two.

'Let It Ring' is not there to reach out and grab you by the scruff, demanding your attention but instead there is comfort in the knowledge that, like a good friend, it will always be there open-armed, honest and true whenever you’re in need.

Frank McNally