Glaswegian Martha L Healy recorded her fine debut album Better Days in Nashville and is soon heading back over there for an extended stay in anticipation of album No. 2. In the meantime she has brought a little bit of Nashville over to Glasgow in the form of this four song EP which was recorded “on a cold January weekend” at La Chunky Studios with producer Johnny Smillie. The EP, two original songs and two covers, features Healy in fine voice, gutsy and with just the right amount of high and lonesome yearning, accompanied by Rebecca Brown on fiddle, Sean Thompson, banjo and David O’Neill on double bass with backing vocals from Paul Healy.
The acoustic set up (and excellent playing) allows Healy’s voice to shine, tackling the Patsy Cline standard Walkin’ After Midnight excellently, her bluesy inflections mirrored well by Brown’s fine fiddle. Likewise on Hank Williams’ I Saw The Light where she and the band sound as if they’re veterans of The Grand Ole Opry, Healy in effervescent Gospel mode over the string band jubilations. Of her own songs, Too Much Time (co-written with Paul Healy) is a reflective piece that recalls the likes of Gretchen Peters or Mary Chapin Carpenter with the band creating a sumptuous and sweetly flowing backdrop. Speaking of Gretchen Peters we know that Healy was a participant in the recent song writing workshops held by the award-winning songstress recently in Edinburgh. Hearing a song like Too Much Time one wonders why as Ms. Healy here manages to encapsulate an artist’s dilemma wonderfully, melody and hooks and all. Joking aside the EP’s title song, To Be Free, does portray Healy as an excellent writer and performer with the song able to stand tall alongside creations from Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Here the band head into Appalachian Carter Family territory as Healy rails devotional and defiant, her voice as vibrant as her Nashville heroines, a staggeringly good song.
As we said earlier Ms. Healy is heading back to Nashville for a while but there’s a chance to catch her in concert this Thursday at the EP launch at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe. On this form it’s sure to be a great night. Tickets here