January 24, 2014

Martin Van Ruin: Every Man a King

Folk rock band Martin Van Ruin brings together a couple of the Chicago music scene. The sextet made up of members of Derek Nelson & The Musicians, Jenny Dragon, and Planetsexplode, follow the path that made by bands like The Walkabouts, Kingsley Flood and Uncle Tupelo. This is a band that can play up a storm in one song (Wilderness) and go for a gentle breeze (Put it Away) in another. Folk music has always been on the fence between storytelling and entertainment and Martin Van Ruin finds the middle ground tracks like the violin driven This Time Around and the Pogues-inspired Gold and Love and Gin.

The melody always comes first, but the backbeat is definitely danceable. Vocalists Sarah Jane Goldstein and Derek Nelson switch between call-and-response and harmonizing. Brian Sharpe is the resident guitar hero, while Alex Winter is the MVP with his inventive bass playing.

On a side note: they named themselves after the nickname of one the most vilified US Presidents, Martin Van Buren. As for the album's title, Louisiana's governor and senator Huey Long's catch phrase was turned into a song in 1935. The connection will be pretty damn obvious for the history savvy folk scene. Both men came to the fore during an economic depression. Van Buren failed, Huey Long tried.

Martin Van Ruin:
Pete Falknor: drums
Sarah Jane Goldstein: vocals, percussion, melodica
Derek Nelson: vocals, guitars
Brian Sharpe: lead guitars, piano
Cathy Starr: violin
Philip Vickers: lap steel, guitars, trumpet
Alex Winter: bass

Martin Van Ruin: Every Man a King

Every Man a King is a self-released album. Buy it from their website.

  1. Give Me Flowers (While I'm Living)
  2. Wilderness
  3. Someone Tried to Warn Me
  4. Put it Away
  5. Sayanora
  6. This Time Around
  7. Gold and Love and Gin
  8. Easy Answer
  9. American Moon
  10. Storm Coming

Live date:
  • 02/21 Chicago, IL @ Hideout

» martinvanruin.com

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