Belfast-born Dom Martin is a singer-songwriter with some tales to tell. On his current solo tour, he appears the typical peripatetic Irish musician, taking his songs and anecdotes to people that will lend an ear. The intimate setting of The Water Rats was filled with newcomers and those committed to Martin's engaging songs and candid chats.
Despite being a youngster, he's perhaps got more stories to tell than most. He talks openly about his love affair with an older woman, being held hostage by loyalists, being friends with the bad and the dangerous, living in a friend's attic, and surviving addictions. It's all pretty heavy stuff, but we don't linger on the details, Martin allows us a snapshot of his life before this point. This is really tip of the iceberg stuff, and his songs have just as much depth as the man himself.
Martin espouses music as a form of therapy, that he encourages everyone to take up. Not with any agenda, or goal to be the best guitar player, pianist, or whatever. Not even to play in public, but to express yourself, write a song, and just create for the sake of creating something.
His style alternates between being inspired by the folk music of his homeland and the blues. At times it's very cinematic, at other times beautifully raw, but always from the heart. His pick-less guitar style is also mesmeric to watch - especially up close.
Aside from performing his own songs including 'Hell For You' and 'Mercy', Martin draws on the catalogue of those who continue to inspire him, namely Rory Gallagher and John Martyn. There are tracks from Gallagher's time with Taste, and a wonderful version of Martyn's 'May You Never. Mashing up songs is also a favourite pastime for Martin, he also treats us to a cover of Lead Belly's 'Out on The Western Plain' and 'Cavatina' from 'The Deer Hunter.'
There's a lot of hype surrounding Dom Martin, and it's certainly true. Next time he's on the road either solo or with the band, it's certainly worth getting a ticket.