Friday, November 25, 2016

Martin X. Petz - Broken Man

Martin X. Petz - Broken Man 

The latest full length release from Detroit native Martin X. Petz, Broken Man, is another fine work from a singer/songwriter who’s prodigious output in recent years is marked, among other things, by the uniformly high level of the material. Some experienced with his work might lump him into the contemporary Christian category, but they couldn’t be any further off. There’s no question that this album, as well as previous efforts, touches upon concerns about maintaining spiritual faith in an often faithless world. Other songs, however, look outside the micro and appreciate people’s trials and the effect it has on them. Petz has a real talent for characterization and adopting different voices through his lyrics. These thematic variations all point back to one central truth about him as an artist and performer – he wants nothing more than to communicate with his songs and the unvarnished simplicity and willingness to engage that each of them demonstrate is impossible to deny. 

“Broken Man”, the title song, is unlike any other song on the album. The loping bass groove established in the opening seconds continues throughout and there’s some top notch electric guitar work that further enlivens the song. He shifts into a more familiar gear on the album’s second track “Noble Blues” and will win over a lot of new listeners with his confident roots rock approach that never gets too brash for its own good. The lyrical content is a perfect illustration of the ability he has with drawing characters mentioned earlier in the review. A few songs on Broken Man adopt a largely acoustic approach and the first, “Fall”, is an intimate track that will move many emotionally. Petz’s acoustic guitar work is never fancy for the wrong reasons and, instead, concentrates on fleshing the melody out to its fullest potential.  

The pensive tempo and tasteful electric guitar that carries the bulk of “Castaway” helps set it apart as one of the finest crafted songs on the album. The sound and approach of the arrangement suggests that Petz took a great deal of time to make sure he got this song right; he coaxes it out with delicacy and a careful take on its lyrics that emphasizes the emotion behind the song. There’s a slight Tex-Mex feel to the musically saucy track “Run Ride Leave” that gives it a different color than earlier songs. Petz’s lyrics are a little regretful, but ultimately forgiving. The album’s second to last song “They Say (You’ll Know)” seems geared a little towards possible radio play and, if so, it’s certainly well-fitted to achieve that kind of success. Few songs on Broken Man are melodically stronger or quite as likeable overall.  

Broken Man works nicely from beginning to end and makes a deep impact without ever being overly ambitious. Petz picks his spots however; there’s a number of influences easily spotted in the music but, overall, he shows a willingness to follow his own musical path and has the skill to pull it off.  

9 out of 10 stars. 

Dale Butcher

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