July, 2002

- idaho
- levitate
- idaho

Sorrowful Los Angelean songwriting soldier Jeff Martin came loping along with loving languor in the footsteps laid down by San Francisco's grumpy, melancholy Marks, Eitzel and Kozelek; finding a place in the misty midst of plod-rock mumblers of the mid-90s like Acetone and Silkworm. After getting lost in the obligatory major-label buy-out limbo of the post-mid-90s(!), Martin, who trades under the name Idaho, shuffled around for a bit, before returning, on his own Idaho label, with a trio of three albums in an 18 month span; Hearts Of Palm, the odds/ends set Vol.1 - People Like Us Should Be Stopped, and, then, late last year, the sixth Idaho full-length Levitate. Now issued in Australia, the disc finds Martin at his most mournful yet, dispensing entirely with distortion and letting his nimble trained-piano fingers behind various kinds of keys. Pushed to the front, then, is Martin's affectedly-hoarse voice, which seeks to fill every aching syllable with heartwrenching heartache. Stepping softly through arrangements designed to heighten the sad-guy effect, Martin's voice can often grate, sounding, at times, like that bloke from Bush in a sensitive mood. The resulting whole is a disc that's soporific to sedative lengths, forsaking the conviction that would have it be some glorious full-blown narcotic to only lay its head on a comforting musical pillow.

anthony carew

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