(Muffin Music) First there was Martha & The Muffins, and then there was M+M and now just M as in lead vocalist Martha Johnson. Still as leader of the Muffins, her vocals were the most distinctive and now, Johnson has finally gotten around to recording a solo release. True, hubby Mark Gane ( the other half of M+M) is still heavily involved, co-producing the record, co-writing seven of the 11 tracks and playing guitar on nine of the tracks yet Johnson’s solo sojourn is far removed from her former band’s Echo Beach past. What we have here is a very, controlled collection of mid-tempo tracks, some with a strong jazz instrumental arrangement. She even co-writes and performs three tracks with songmeister Ron Sexsmith (`See Saw Eyes’, `Show Me How’ and `I Wouldn’t Change a Day’.) Co-produced by Ray Dillard who performs on all 11 tracks, Johnson, despite battling the long-term effects of Parkinson’s Disease, plays to her vocal strength against a minimalist instrumental arrangement. Tracks like her debut single `Bye Bye Love’, ‘I Should Be Happy’ and `Show Me How’ project an artist with a powerful, confident vocal approach projecting simplistic yet poignant lyrics against a wide variety of instrumental arrangements which vary from acoustic guitar to big-band/jazz compositions. Introspective in nature, Solo One isn’t exactly packed full of contemporary hit songs, but that’s not Johnson’s purpose here. What she does exhibit is a mature, performance by a skilled artist whose lyrical message has something meaningful to say.
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