Martin X. Petz – Broken Man
There are few writers on the indie or mainstream music scene who compose songs like Martin X. Petz. This husband and father played music and wrote songs for many years before deciding in the early years of this century to begin recording and releasing collections of his work. The resulting discography is strong with a number of qualities. Petz is fearless when it comes to writing about personal matters and previous albums are filled with examples of his willingness to confront issues of faith, spiritual relationships, and other philosophical concerns that few songwriters dare to approach. The most notable part of this achievement is that he examines these matters with melodic flair and very accessible, straight-forward lyrical content. There’s no high flown moments on this album. Petz and his talented collaborators keep the songs and playing alike grounded and the result is music with substance that nonetheless has the capacity for entertaining any listener.
Broken Man starts with its title cut. Petz wastes no time pulling listeners into the deepest dramatic ends and “Broken Man” is obviously tailored to get its point across to listeners with minimal fuss. The music has a rough texture, but it has a dark and coherent melody that latches into the memory and doesn’t easily fade. The track “Noble Blues” is an admirable track depicting the day to day struggles of keeping a good grip on what’s truly important in the face of a life that often seems to tear down our pride. “Noble Blues” does have quite the same hint of a rambunctious musical side like the first song, but the arrangement is deceptively simple and Petz’s vocal makes great use of its potential. One of Broken Man’s most delicate entries is the song “Fall”. It’s primarily an acoustic based song that takes its time developing for the listener. It should be best remembered for its war melody and the nice interplay Petz achieves with the musical elements.
“Heart & Home” is one of the album’s finest efforts because it achieves a great balance between Petz’s desire to communicate his experiences with the audience and his skill for directing rousing musical performances. He never goes overboard though – everything is treated with an ear towards beguiling the listener rather than overwhelming them. There’s just a small amount of light percussion in “Count”; it’s otherwise steered by his forceful acoustic guitar work. Broken Man hits its most mainstream country-minded moment with the number “They Say (You’ll Know)”, but never then, Petz doesn’t take any short cuts trying to pander for a specific audience. His wont for reflective songwriting remains the same and continues to avoid any sermonizing.
Broken Man is one of the year’s best works in the folk/Americana rock vein. As the review has already stated, there’s a lot of country heard in these songs too, but it’s a part of it that’s lightly stressed at best. Martin X. Petz writes songs that, in some sense, defy description. Scouring the music scene for likeminded artists won’t produce much in the way of results. Petz writes with rare maturity and composes solid, appealing arrangements that are more than merely vehicles for his lyric writing. It makes for his best album release yet.
9 out of 10 stars.