A musician’s career can take varying routes and roads across a lifetime. Case in point: Martin Kelly. For his career in music, only started to bloom once he moved continents and joined with his musical brother in arms, James Edan, for a musical project that would take them to heady heights. Beginning their Martin and James journey in Germany, the following five years produced countless on-the-road memories (seeing the pair touring alongside heavyweight commercial artists like Taylor Swift, Bryan Adams and Paul Weller), two stunning full-length albums and a deep connection with Europe.
It’s now in 2017 we find Martin Kelly, certain to continue on his path in the music industry with a five-song debut release – a collection of the emotive kind. This is music that lives and dies on its power of sentiment, tenderness of heart and passion of speech; flowing through the course of 18 minutes, the tracks featuring on ‘Fine Love’ explore the wild expression of lovelorn acceptance, unforgiving nostalgia, darkened pathways of love and an understanding that hints to a blossoming future.
Lead single ‘Match Already Burned’ is introduced as the opening statement of the EP, although the beginning chords allude to a Latin influence a la Enrique Iglesias, we soon find this a smoke screen for what remains in the next two minutes is a sorrowful, minor-key ballad. Strummed and stressed on key notes, the slowly building melody provides percussive dissonance as if to further apply the lyrical resonance. Echoes of Luke Sital-Singh are present in the pop-leaning structure and use of smartly-written lyrics, only allowing more weight to be awarded to the rawness of the vocal which impacts in an exasperation of reconciled composure – it’s honestly moving. ‘Far Away’ ushers in more of the same, all but until its inclination for an upbeat soundtrack wins position and offers up an easily likeable punch-the-air finale, the kind which Tom Chaplin has been sweeping up the accolades with since launching his recent solo venture.
The title track switches gears immediately, taking a prime interest in the melancholy appeal of the piano. ‘Fine Love’ is a beautiful song, one that builds with emotional layers and full band production, it’s all simply applied but thoroughly felt. ‘Heart On A Wire’ is the anomaly of the piece; a tantalising tale of desire and playful love baiting – “You know that it’s you / That I’m tied to / You’ve got my heart on a wire,” Kelly makes abundantly clear before a false close takes the track out in proper roots style, with Lumineers-esque country and blues twangs galore. Final ode, ‘Fisherman Blues’ is true songwriter fare, a Waterboys-styled folk rock number that speaks of a life lived to the fullest and the ties that ground us. The standout vocal performance is captured stunningly, and is just another nod to Kelly’s great artistic vision. Harmonica lifts the piece from plain dreaming to imagined reality as the defining picturesque motif for Kelly to hang his hat on, it’s a job well done.
‘Fine Love’ in many ways isn’t a far departure from Martin and James’ earlier works: the only obvious difference, the focus here is on the one voice and not the duo – but that’s not to say there’s any less impact.