I’ve been following Martin Luther’s career since I bought his second album “Rebel Soul Music” back in 2005. The fella who served me was actually an ex-classmate of mine but he probably had no idea who Martin Luther even was, which is understandable considering the fact that Martin Luther is by no means Justin Timberlake or Sean Puffy Combs. You see, Martin Luther is another one of those artists who is in a class of his own. He might be branded an R&B singer, or a Soul singer, but he easily can get as rocky as Hendrix, just as he quickly and naturally as he can smooth things out like Marvin Gaye or Al Green…. or maybe Prince would be a better comparison because he loves the self described “skinny mothereffer with the high voice” so much. What can I say? The man has great taste in music. I’m usually on the ball when it comes to all of the latest music releases, but by the time August 2012 rolled around, I literally had no idea that Martin had even released a new project called “Love Is The Hero” until I read a review of it on soultracks.com. After reading the article I immediately headed over to his Bandcamp site and paid up! Not too long after that I sporadically wrote out a longass album review of my own…… make what you will of what you’re all about to read.
Waiting For You: Can’t really say that I’m surprised to hear a hard rock song from Martin Luther, as he describes his sound as “Rebel Soul Music.” If you take a moment to really listen, though you’ll notice that there are also shades of that gritty soul sound, like Motown or Stax. You can hear the drummer really going off on the skins on this track and that just makes it REALLY kick ass. Aside from that it seems as though this could even be an homage to the old Graham Central Station intros, as Martin welcomes the listeners to the album with almost the very same words that Larry Graham & his band did back in the ’70s: “We’ve been waiting for you.” Awesome! Let’s get stuck into Martin Luther’s new album then.
Killer Machines: Next up is another hard rocker, which is all about killer machines (possibly chemtrails?) in the sky and how we’ve “raped” planet earth….. I really must say, that lyric shocked the heck out of me when I first heard it and I still get kinda disturbed by it whenever I play the song to this day. Still, Martin Luther is here to tell us all that even though there’s a whole load of madness going on in the world that “everyone here knows love is the hero of the scene.” In some ways you could say that this is the title track….. or maybe just he decided to call the album “Love Is The Hero” because of that particular lyric? I also found some of the lyrical phrasings in this song to be somewhat operatic, for instance: “TV lying children are dying as the leevee breaks…… Blood on the playground nowhere to play now. My, aren’t we safe?” It was probably just my imagination, though. I doubt that Martin Luther was ever influenced by Andrew Lloyed Webber musicals & such.
Precious: As soon as I heard the intro, I thought Martin was going to cover the Prince song “Sometimes It Snows In April,” which makes sense because he’s written a song that alludes to it but he hasn’t released it unfortunately. I will say though that this song is a little Prince influenced vocally, which is just fine with me. Martin starts off with the line: “Need a break from all things you.” Sounds like it might be a break-up song but really he’s just got a crush on some girl and he doesn’t want to share it with her, yet he’s wondering what the aftermath will be if the two of them actually get together. Sounds like he doesn’t wanna lose her though cause she’s so precious. Nice track indeed.
And Futhermore: Uh-oh. NOW we’ve reached that point where he’s DONE with his girlfriend: “You took me for a test drive now you’re letting him drive. You’re trying to get to heaven but you’ve got a little hell to pay. Never been a follower I ain’t about to start today.” I never realised just how cold all of those lyrics were that I just quoted, but damn, it’s a friggen great song!!
There You Go: The second break up song on the record features Martin stating that “the shit was over before it ever began.” I’m no expert but that’s definitely not a good place to be in is it now? Once again I find this song’s chorus to be infectuous despite its meaning. In fact I had only had the album for a week and already I was (mentally) singing along to this song. Damn it! Why is this Martin Luther dude so underground? He should be ruling the airwaves! Forget about Gangman Style, it should be: “Martin Luther Style in dis beitch.”
Everything Is U: Time to slow it down a notch with the third break up song on the album. The previous two might have been incredibly cold, angry and dismissive, but this one is much more reflective. Perhaps even a little sad if you like. He’s realising that he no longer has a girlfriend by his side. His Prince influence definitely shines through all over this track…. and NOT just because he says that nothing compares to his woman. In my opinion it’s because of the way he does his harmonies. Even the guitar solo reminds me a bit of Prince.
Sara Smile: I had a feeling that this song was a cover when I saw the title but I thought it was originally performed by Fleetwood Mac. Turns out that it was really Hall & Oates. Despite what Martin has written in the lyrics column, no I don’t know this song’s lyrics so I’m not really aware of what he’s twisted around. I do know that there are a lot of times where he sounds uncannily like Sly Stone on this track.
Somebody Superstar: This is my favourite song on the whole entire album for the simple fact that the chorus is incredibly POSITIVE, uplifting and encouraging: “To the world you might be one person, but to that person you might be the world, you are somebody superstar.” Think about that one for a second. I used to follow Martin on Facebook and I noticed that he always used to post news updates, so I was under the impression that the song’s lyrics were inspired by a real life court case that was going on in the States. Regardless of where the inspiration came from, that chorus is still universal, no doubt.
Pedal To The Metal: “Late night, late night. Yeah! On the mic come on.” Is that Martin Luther gettin’ ready to bust a rhyme? Whew! Thankfully it isn’t! He had me kinda worried for a second there with that intro. In some ways this is just about jumping into a car with your girl and just going away and driving away to an unknown place. There’s some other stuff goin’ on too, like the girl’s mother being worried about her child running off with some mysterious dude. It’s an okay song for what it is….. not really one of the songs I go back to though. “Take your top down and let the girls be free.” Obviously there was a double entendre going on there….. at least he put it THAT way, as opposed to: “Let’s drive around in our convertible with the top down, now take YOURS off and show me ya tits!”
Undefeated Love: Yep. There’s a hell of a lot of heart & soul going on right here. One for all the lovers out there to send out to their women. Come to think of it this could’ve probably gone on my “Wedding Songs” Playlist. In fact there’s even a reference to “his bride.” Yep it’s definitely wedding march material. Funk what cha heard, Martin Luther is for the lovers, dammit. Love IS the hero of the scene and this song further proves it. He even takes it to church towards the end, which is just brilliant.
Count Your Blessings: Further proof that Martin Luther is a huge Prince fan. This song could very well be his “Purple Rain.” It’s one of those anthemic rock ballads. It doesn’t have that iconic falsetto “hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo” chant, but even so it’s the perfect closer for an album. Again, the lyrics are incredibly uplifting. Shame it fades out after 5:29 though, it sounds like it could have soared a hell of a lot higher.
Verdict: This album just needs to be heard right now. I mean it’s definitely NOT some guy sitting behind his keyboard making some very annoying noises over even more irritating house beats, it’s a real musician writing his own lyrics, singing them, playing his guitar, possibly producing those songs and overall doing it very well. “Love Is The Hero” was one of the best damn albums of 2012 but sadly it was only discovered by a handful of people….. in that case, I say support indie artists!