November 11, 2000

Hearts of Palm
(Idaho Music)

Jeff Martin, Idaho's singer/songwriter, is a master of the subtle gesture that reveals the entire life. On Hearts of Palm, Idaho's fifth studio album, Martin strums his custom four-string guitar and sings in his raspy Neil Young/Bill Callahan tenor about life's unsolvable mysteries, and times to be savored but not possessed. The minor-key ruminations especially shine on the piano-driven opener, "To Be the One," gaining steam and weight with each verse. The songs carry the structure of an elegy: lament, consolation, bad news followed by good. Since 1996's feedback-fueled Three Sheets to the Wind, Idaho has quieted down without quelling its demons. The rotating cast of players is a duo on Hearts of Palm, with Dan Seta on guitars and Jeff Martin playing all other instruments. The album is like one of those deep, prolonged dreams in which moods and images hang together with a kind of emotional logic and continuity.


this review is/was posted at
and is available here for archival purposes