A folkie by implication, having busked in his youth and earning plaudits as a member of the erstwhile "new folk" crowd, Martin Sexton is a superb singer who could just as easily ply his trade as a soul, gospel, or even jazz singer alongside the likes of Al Green. On his new collection, Sugarcoating, Sexton matches Green's burnished, soulful croon and soaring falsetto on "Livin the Life," even copping a bit of the Rev.'s uplifting, do-the-right-thing message. But that's just one cut on an album that grasps eclecticism by the collar and goes for a ride, traversing gospel, country (complete with yodeling), lots more soul, jazz, the Beatlesesque "Stick Around" (which even mentions Abbey Road mid-tune), and even a burbling rag concerned with swoonin', croonin', and spoonin'. But most striking is the title track, a skewering of the apocalyptic assault on truth in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks and the implications for a society in which "nightly news gone entertainment biz." Sexton makes his message hit even harder by setting it to an ironically jaunty cowboy-folk gallop. Opening and subsequently backing Sexton will be the Ryan Montbleau Band, a Boston-based outfit that works effervescent grooves derived from a broad cross-section of soul, jazz, blues, folk, rock, country, and rock-steady.
Sun., April 25, 7:30 p.m., 2010
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