Cottage Industry Music
1540 Cheneketa St., NE
Salem, OR 97301
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Sarah Umberger
From her own Cottage Industry Music label, The Sound Must Leave Your Throat is Martha Schuyler Thompson's fourth release. Twelve original well-crafted and conceived compositions feature a variety of mostly upbeat moods and musical styles, with Martha's voice, as you might suspect from the album's title, maintaining the strongest position. Her voice is also master of more than a few styles, from a rock Joplin-like edge and growl to a Rory Block high bluesy howl, but is always strong and clear. The full band ensemble production is well done, with some local Oregon greats and other notables providing seamless support on guitar, bass, drums, keys, and the occasional finger cymbals and chimes.
Diverse musical influences are featured as highlights on this CD. The tunes use elements of blues, bluegrass, gospel, folk, country, acoustic rock and rockabilly in a thoroughly enjoyable and unpretentious, if not ultra-cool or innovative, way. The songs are energetic, down-to-earth and passionate, not just of interest to songwriters who will immediately recognize Martha's considerable songwriting talents, since the arrangements and lyrics are far more intelligent and complex than the average pop, folk or country song. I found that some songs needed many listenings to fully appreciate them, and that's a point worth emphasizing, since they are not simple songs. A special mention for Whole Lotta Sense, It's True, and Here to Stay, (which I can imagine hearing on a hip country and western bar's jukebox, and people there could dance to Ain't It About Time) and Snowfall (which is the most "different" of the tunes, one of those haunting ones). I was also particularly grabbed musically by The Leaves and the fun, danceable It's Love and suspect they have some wide popular potential, but why not listen yourself and see what you think? I think a number of singles could gain lots of ground on radio stations playing to the folk and country crowd. Martha Schuyler Thompson's work is certainly on the same level as Patty Larkin's or Mary Chapin Carpenter's, and if that seems like comparing apples to oranges, Thompson manages to be both at various times. I especially liked the softer songs with articulated well done guitar string presence and those with a slower beat which made the fullness of the lyrics easier to follow, more than half of the tracks. But each song's lyrics are written out on the inside jacket cover.
Is it a buy? That would depend on whether you're curious about "new" and upcoming singer/songwriting talent, and like songs with lots of words you'll want to listen to attentively at first, and whether you have a contemporary folk or country background. I'd recommend this one especially to songwriters and listening people with that background who enjoy an upbeat musical experience overall, with some surprisingly nice, memorable original songs, as well as to those who are fans of Larkin and Carpenter...Thompson's physical and mental voice is quite unique. I liked some songs enough I'd include them on one of several special song collection tapes with interesting and/or favorite songs by women artists. And I'd really enjoy hearing something of hers on the radio instead of some insipid stuff by more famous people I won't mention. From someone who has worked in folk music clubs for many years, that's a pretty good grade.
Edited by David N. Pyles