Derek Wayne Martin is a singer-songwriter whose work is less concerned with pushing a certain aesthetic and more attuned to specific emotional states. His songs follow the tried and true acoustic march of associated Americana and folk histories but are less self-contained and strive to reveal a plain and evocative truth within their melodies and lyrical rhythms. Love, loss and the comfort of affection all weigh heavily upon his music, but these themes aren’t simple bylines to a quick narrative resolution—they produce a complicated and affecting sound that refuses to be lost among an ocean of like-minded musicians.
Martin’s last release, a 5-track EP called “Ghost Town” that he shared in 2015, was awash in acoustic-electric muscle and traveled a rockier road to adapt his influences than you might expect. There were moments of electricity paired with subtle acoustic devastation, and Martin combined these two extremes with a grace and balance that made each seem all the more powerful. And in the intervening years, his creativity has been kept him writing and recording, waiting for just the right time to show us what he’s been working on. And now he has.
On his new single, “Too Much,” he reveals a refinement of his singer-songwriter approach, an amalgam of influences which show how he’s been able to merge the varying aspects of the genre into a coherent vision that doesn’t sacrifice intimacy for generalization. He’s still woefully in love, and that’s not a bad thing. The song is the perfect platform his own often melancholic musings of desire and regret, and he wanders through them with a gentle but unwavering devotion.
With help from local musician Daniel Nelson (who provides electric guitar and drums and handles engineering and mixing duties), Martin creates a completely absorbing and emotional reckoning. Alongside Nelson, he provides vocals, bass and acoustic guitar parts, building this song from its base elements into something grand and worthy of your undivided attention. By bringing some indie rock fortitude into this Americana formula, he shows just how well the two connect and grow off of one another. The guitars shimmer and shake while drums build to a quaking resolve, and as Martin’s voice rises above it all, we’re treated to a series of beautifully realized moments that quickly lodge themselves firmly into our heads.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.