Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Jeff Martin - Exile and the Kingdom Review

Jeff Martin's first solo disc, Exile and the Kingdom, was released yesterday which I snagged shortly after FutureShop opened (it actually wasn't even on the shelf yet!). For those not in the know, Jeff Martin was the lead vocalist of the now finished Tea Party, which broke up last fall under... conflicting circumstances. Being a rather large Tea Party fan, I admit to being worried as to how Exile and the Kingdom would sound, if it would live up to my expectations. We'll, if you have the same fears as me, I can assure you that Exile and the Kingdom is a solid album, and a strong solo release.

What I found most interesting is the progression featured on the disc. The first three tracks are very Tea Party-ish, and take the listener through the development of that band. "World is Calling" is an exceptional opening track that captures the early Tea Party feel (The Edges of Twilight), "Butterfly" seems to repesent the Tea Party's mid-run albums (TRIPtych), and "Where Do We Go from Here" reminds me of the best stuff from Seven Circles.

After leaving the Tea Party, Martin made it known that family is now the most important thing to him, and I find that the remainder of the album really reflects this. The tone is not necessarily different than what's come before, but the focus is definitely an evolution beyond Seven Circles. The tracks are more mellow but no less powerful, featuring a nice duet on "Stay Inside Me," and great overall structure on "The Kingdom."

The only track on the disc that I really, really do not like is "Black Snake Blues." I honestly find it bad, just plan bad and wish I could remove it from the disc.

After purchasing Exile and the Kingdom yesterday, I though about reviewing it promptly, however I decided to wait the extra day and listen to it another time; taking some time to digest it and I'm glad I did. While I greatly enjoyed the album on my first listen, I've enjoyed its subtlties all the more the second time.

While The Tea Party may be finished, I'm happy to say that Jeff Martin is still putting out great music. If you're a Tea Party fan, whether your sad or angry over the band's break up and Martin's reasons for it, you'd still be doing yourself a great disservice by missing out on Exile and the Kingdom, and for $9.99, what do you have to loose?

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