Recent times have been good for jazzy women, and Mary Martin's new album is among the region's best. A staple of the North Coast scene in the late '70s, the talented singer-guitarist has also kicked around Chicago and D.C. This ear-grabbing work might very well take her elsewhere.
On the self-produced Myths and Antidotes, Martin rides the dual rails between jazz and folksinger/ songwriter tradition with ease and authority. Earthier than most present-day jazz divas, she's also more sophisticated than the typical folkie. Within this engaging blend, Martin's moods are varied, but invariably sketched out in understated lyrics that mirror her vocals in tone and content.
A couple of production touches (occasional laid-back horns) could easily have turned the album into a bona fide breakout. A full-time producer might also have chased down the more elusive reaches of Martin's splendid voice. Myths and Antidotes is that close to exceptional.