This is an interesting concept in that it is essentially a combination of Martin’s soulful voice and backing singers Sherie Marshall and Stacie Tabb accompanied only by Martin’s own acoustic and resonator guitar playing, the organ playing of Jimmy Hill and the electric guitar of Mickey McCallum. This makes for a greater focus on the vocals and it’s fair to say that they stand up to the test. This album blends soul, blues and gospel elements that may not be unique, but make for a compelling listen. Martin’s voice touches a similar path to that of, say, a Bonnie Tyler in that it is front and centre and full on. Mavis Staple may be another more soulful comparison. Either way it is Martin’s voice that is the clear focus of attention, though the backing vocalists are right behind her and an important part of the overall sound.
There are songs where her voice is less strident and works closer with the backing vocals and When You Walk Away is one such song. The percussion of hand claps and foot stomps create the rhythm bed over which the vocals range free on songs like Addicted and on the guitar fronted Don’t Shoot. On occasion the deliver has a more jaunty approach, as with One More Day which has the feel of a revival meeting. My Crown with the organ and vocal backing makes Martin sound like an older soul from an earlier time than she, in reality, is. There is a similarity of sound overall that some may feel that a drummer, bassist and horn section might have added much to the sound. That may be true but it also might have made it less distinctive. In the end it’s all a matter of taste.
Samantha Martin has previously released material with another band The Haggard that takes a different approach, as shown by the bass heavy dub reggae style version of Tom Paxton’s The Last Thing On My Mind and other songs on a 2012 album which has a more roots feel than the current album. Martin writes some songs on that previous album and has written the majority of the songs on Send the Nightingale. The album is dedicated to her late mother and that may be something that has inspired some of the writing here. As writer, guitarist and vocalist Martin has an undoubted talent that can only develop as she follows her career path and this album suggests that the Canadian may well come to wider attention as time goes on but right now this nightingale is singing, if not sweetly, then soulfully and in a way that commands attention