With a UK tour upcoming in April, here comes the new single from Joe Martin - "Empty Passenger Seat" - and it should set things up for what promises to be an exciting run of dates. As singles go it it is quite extraordinary and seems to break many of the rules of convention for singles, as well as surely establishing a record for the number of syllables that can be placed into the word "seat" yet equally at its heart is the composition of a true troubadour.
Take the opening few lines which open to a stumming acoustic guitar and some electric guitar adding some background sound
"Big city lights are shining down on me
Different ones from yesterday
And although they don't spell my name
I know that they will some day"
A simple 4 line set up that estblishes a great deal of character detail about who this song is about before we have barely started.
A short loud flourish on the guitar then introduces one of the prominent sounds on the whole record - a drum sound that seems to defy all expectations, one hat will power its way through to drive the ong on relentlessly.
"Drinking all the backstage beer - trying to drown out your tears
Now its been a long time since I been home, God it feels like a years
Forgive for my confusion - I got so the rock 'n' roll delusion
Now its taken its toll and its catching up with me"
A further four lines and our opening sketch is filled out further - the travelling musician looking for the break, starting to live the lifestyle which includes being young free and single - leaving a relationship behind. It gets to the point that
"Got my foot to the floor going nowhere fast
Don't see how I can make this last
Was convinced that my life be complete - beside an empty passenger seat."
Compared to normal Joe's voice is perhaps at the lower end of its usual spectrum - the reasons for this will become demonstrably clear as things develop.
The second verse sees the sound ramp up considerably and Joe's vocals move up the scale- the lifestyle now seems ever less glamorous
"Another service stop - another train to hop"
and the decisions of earlier on are looking a little hasty and ill conceived.
"But I think of you to try to keep me sane"
The chorus this time round as mentioned earlier sees the the word "Seat" elongated and sung at volume to almost lung busting proportions.
After a short return to a more acoustic sound for what seems to be an effective apology / confession that he has been wrong - Joe masterfully brings things full circle - with the lead character making a realisation
Now I know my life won't be complete - with an empty passenger seat".
Almost certainly the best drumming you will hear on an Americana record this year and Joe vocals leave absolutely nothing behind - watching him recreate this live will be worth the price of admission alone. An early runner for "Single Of The Year" ? - it could well be - it's that good.
If you want to catch Joe Martin sing this live