Spring reverb, tremolo, and a catchy guitar line. Every album has to start somewhere, and Martyr’s self-titled debut starts out classically. Opener “Amensia” is a dreamy beach jam, with plenty of smoky vocals thrown on top of bright instrumental ornamentation and a slightly-too-noodly bass undercurrent.
It’s startling then, when what starts off as a straight-up rock album takes a steep dive into whiskey-soaked (literally) folk territory. “Bourbon Breakfast,” “Vancouver,” “Julian,” and “Just A Ballad” all show off Martyrs brainchild Dan Ross’ country-porch fingerpicking skills and reedy voice in a simple and unrepentantly formulaic manner.
Each track sounds wonderful, with careful backing vocals supplied by Hannah Walker (Mercy Years) entering into the mix at just the right places. Ross’ singer-songwriter catalog is somber territory, and it comes out at odds against the rock band music that opens and closes the album. Martyrs is an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s also a beautiful journey from front to back.