Martha Wash is a singer, who you may recognise as one half of “The Weather Girls” (notable for their hit “It’s Raining Men”). In the 90s, Martha went onto release “Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”. If you haven’t got the idea of who we’re talking about here, we can’t help you. On January 6th 2020, Martha released a brand new album titled “Love & Conflict”. We took a listen and here’s what we thought…
The album kicks off with “Glamour Flows”, it starts off one way and ends up going in a whole different direction. Its upbeat and full of energy, a good start to this album. The great thing about this track is that it has many elements of jazz and 60s RnB brought up to a modern standard, paying off very well to a high degree. At around two-minutes, the bass really caught our attention – fully in the pocket and hitting hard. “Glamour Flows” ends with a very chill fadeout. Excellent.
Track two is “Like Fire”. Starts off sounding a little like “All Night Long” by Lionel Ritchie but then goes another way. At times this song very “broadway” but then as soon as the chorus hits, it really does. There’s a lot of elements scattered around the mix here that really keep this track interesting, especially the backing vocals. We notice this track doesn’t indulge too much on the chorus, which is good – gives us something to look forward too. A small breakdown towards the end which is masterfully done (kudos to the many producers).
Up next is “Soaring Free”, this song has a blend of soul/jazz and even a hint of pop we’d argue. This track is very easy to listen to. The way this track runs sounds to us like the album’s drawing to a close but we look at the track listing and see we’ve got five other tracks to go through. A lot of drum and percussion work that ever so slightly distracts from what else is happening on this track, not that its bad – just a bit too much, a bit too busy. There’s a lot here that would be better highlighted. Oh and before we forget, keep an ear out to the flute solo towards the end – that’s something we’ve not heard in a while.
“Flowers Blossom” is a tricky one because at the start there’s some synth and other elements that we’re not too keen on here. We had to listen to this one twice to work out what that was, almost like a pitched engine – maybe that’s what they were going for here but not quite sure it works too well. When it kicks off at about 30 seconds, the drums sound out of place. That snare sounds too weak, far too dry for the energy and vibe of this track. Needs to be bigger and bolder to compliment this. The strings and brass work very well here and of course Martha is powerful. Towards the end there’s a very cool chorus of backing vocals that finishes the track nicely.
Track five is “Never Enough Money”. Hello there hammond organ! Awesome start, back to the Motown/RnB sound with elements of funk here. Now this is one rollercoaster ride full of buildups, stops, and moments that really give this track a unique and interesting character. One thing however, we’re not sure if that was a guitar solo or just part of the bridge/outro. The tone was off, it had no soul or substance and to be honest even with that short amount of space to do something, it could’ve been so much more interesting (even with some pentatonics or even a bend that was actually in tune). Overall, a pleasant track.
“Don’t Forget My Name” blew our mind the moment it started. Choc fool of groove, great textures scattered around the mix with brilliant synthesisers layered throughout. It drops and picks up at exactly the right moment, we caught a pad or two in the background at the right moment. What a beautifully produced track, there’s even sax in it too! So far this is our favourite track on the album, without a doubt.
The penultimate track, “Honey My Friend”, gospel/blues vibe right off the bat. Excellent groove, fantastic progression, Martha kills on this. As this track plays on, there’s never a moment here that goes amiss. Little guitar licks that work excellently with the piano in the background riffing on it too (around 1:45 in), they’re jammin’ folks! We note this is the longest track on the album but this keeps going (in a good way). Towards the end, we’ve got another great bunch of backing vocalists providing killer energy and ends on a soft note.
Finally, we’ve got “Rise and Shine”. Starts of like a ballad but then totally picks up. Big sound here, fat drums, excellent groove. Good energy throughout, Martha sounds like she’s cutting loose here which pays off pretty well. It gets a little spooky, yet groovy at the half way mark. A little weird at 2:45 but then it resolves itself, it kinda threw us a bit – felt a little bit messy but again, resolves itself for a satisfactory ending.
“Love & Conflict” presents an audible smorgasbord with a range of different genres under one umbrella (if you’ll pardon the pun). There is no doubt this release demonstrates the proficiency of Martha, quite a fitting approach given the nature of music today. Where listeners tend not to listen to whole albums, but rather tracks individually. A few hits, but a couple of misses too. All killer, no filler? Not quite but certainly a very well produced, efficiently mixed and mastered album that many of the fans will no doubt love. If you’re new to Martha’s music – you may be a little thrown by the change of pace and sound that comes from each track but no doubt you will find at least one or two tracks you’ll love. Our highlight was definitely “Don’t Forget My Name”, that track is going to be on repeat for a good while.