Martin X. Petz – Chained
Country music needs more songwriters like Martin X. Petz. He might not sport a cowboy hat, hail from somewhere south of the Mason Dixon Line, or smile like a million bucks under his eternal five o’clock shadow passing for a beard, but he’s the real deal when you toss all of the other bs aside. There’s unimpeachable honesty breathing in every moment of his newest release Chained – from first note to the last, you’ll never think anything less than this man is presenting himself to you as he really is, warts and all, without fogging his songs over with the stink of stardom delayed. He’s clearly writing for himself, first and foremost, but clearly hoping we’ll join him on his journey.
“Chained” sparkles with its even-handed pace and the tight connection between Petz’s guitar playing and vocal. It’s apparent from the first song on that Petz isn’t any kind of vocal gymnast or even sports a wide range, but what he can do well is sonically embody the feelings and situations depicted in his lyrics. He does that on the title song to miraculous effect and it considerably enhances the cut. “They Say (You’ll Never Know” harkens back to late 80’s-early 90’s Nashville country with its mid-tempo stride and Telecaster tones. Petz’s surprisingly stylish vocal only helps make listeners more comfortable with his voice. “It’s Hard” is an outright attempt at a audience pleaser, but this single misstep on an otherwise spotless album fails thanks to clichéd and heavy handed lyrical content not up to par with the album’s other writing. It’s well intentioned, but ultimately misguided.
The album’s melodic masterpiece comes with “All That I Am” which, excluding some strategically deployed bits of percussion, is nothing but Petz with his guitar. He unwinds the album’s best melody with patience and a light touch and wraps his warm vocal around it with sure handed confidence.