Life Drawing Without Instruction
It's been six years since Toronto's Selina Martin released Space Woman, a much-loved first record that earned her piles of acclaim and a cult following that included many like-minded artists. A musician's musician, Martin blew in like a breath of fresh air with a voice full of beauty and angst and a wholly unique writing sensibility that tweaks the standard love song with brushes of dark humour and spite. She's made an amazing comeback with her latest album Life Drawing Without Instruction. It's an astounding collection of diverse, lively folk-rock songs that are tricky to pin down. Martin coos and hollers, kisses and spits, hugs and kicks depending on the song at hand, while an eclectic musical stew brews behind her. Her new record features Martin and her bandmates Annelise Noronha, Rob Carson, Leo Valvassori and Dave Clark stretching to their multi-instrumentalist limit with the addition of accordion, tuba, glockenspiel, cello, trombone, wine glasses and musical saw. Cameos by fans and friends include Martin Tielli and Michael Phillip Wojewoda (Rheostatics), Rob Piltch, St. Dirt Elementary School, Julia Hambleton, Greg Smith (Weakerthans) and members of Wayne Omaha. Martin's latest effort has resulted in more amazing music from a real artist, someone who flies in the face of convention and still creates great songs. The Globe and Mail Life Drawing Without Instruction **** (highest rating) Selina Martin has the voice of a thrift-shop angel and the eye of an eagle circling over it's prey. She's too decent to lie, and too cruel to look away as you react to what she has to say about your shabby subterfuges, which may also be hers. Her new album is full of sneaky wisdom and good tunes that refuse to know where to draw the line. Her arrangements (made and performed with friends from the Rheostatics end of the indie scene) have a way of billowing into grand or parodic tributes to whatever folly she happens to be discussing. Her band is her Greek chorus, commenting on the action with a leer or a tear. Ideally, these songs would be performed in the seedy, comfortable cabaret whose existence they imply. But that cabaret may not exist, so you'd better just buy the record. - Robert Everett-Green.