Christina Martin in Vanslag

I have this thing for singer-songwriters. They often alternate between band-versions and very small units with only an extra guitarist when they’re on tour over here and I love how their songs sound big and strong with a full band behind them and so tender and fragile when they’re all alone on a stage. Last week Canadian Christina Martin played in Vanslag, with Dale Murray on guitar and lapsteel guitar.

Partially it’s a financial thing of course to play in smaller settings when touring Europe. It costs a lot flying a full band over and arrange bedding and food, but I also love the adventurous side of it. Driving all over Europe, just the two of you, no idea where you’ll end up the next day or the day after. Playing venues, living-rooms, bars or in old Churches. Such as Vanslag.

Musically she’s said to be in the direction of Lucinda Williams or Sheryl Crow with a dash of Roy Orbison, Patti Griffin and Tom Petty. Not a bad mix, not at all.

Christina tells great tales about Canada and her travels in Europe (living in Dachau for a certain time) in between the songs. Makes me want to explore Canada for a while. She has a terrific voice, even though she’s a bit under the weather. My personal favorite -even though it’s not the most upbeat song ever- is Take my Body Home. Just paints a scene in my mind and the guitar-sound is spot on.

Musically I loved the mix of Christina on acoustic guitar and her husband Dale on either a gorgeous white Duesenberg guitar or on lapsteel guitar. When Christina switches her acoustic guitar for a sparkling black Duesenberg the songs get a bit more bite and it adds a spark to the set. But I really love do the slower songs, also as Dale adds a wonderful layer of sound to those songs.

(click image for full set)

They played two fantastic sets and my only wish would be that more people found their way to the Vanslag stage, bands like this really deserve a greater audience.

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