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Martin Zellar - Head West (self-released)

2 October 2023

There’s an exquisite allure to the notion of heading west, a magnetic pull that no other cardinal direction can quite conjure. The North feels too frigid, the East too commonplace, and the South too enigmatic. Only the West beckons with the promise of warmth and reassurance, of optimism and untamed adventure. After all, if it’s the very realm where the sun chooses to make its nightly abode, then surely it’s a place fit for the rest of us wayward western wanderers.

Now, when you dive into Martin Zellar’s latest album, starting with the eponymous opener, you’ll find it’s woven from those same elemental threads. The journey is the undercurrent, whether it’s measured in miles of asphalt or the relentless passage of years. Throughout, there’s a palpable sense of motion and evolution, coupled with subtle whispers of nostalgia for the roads traveled and seasons passed.

Take “The Road Led Here,” for instance, with its lilting, enchanting riffs. It could be about a literal highway or perhaps a metaphorical life path. On the flip side, “Texas Just Won’t End” offers a wry take on the sheer vastness of the Lone Star State, a bluesy-country jam that tips its hat to the likes of Cormac McCarthy. Yet, it also nods to the wanderlust-soaked pages of writers like Kerouac, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, and even Robert Pirsig.

The musical landscape here is as diverse as the American terrain it celebrates. It spans from the pure, unadulterated country tones of “Anyone But Me” to the rock ‘n’ roll twangs of “Goodbye Wild Bill,” harkening back to the 1950s. Meanwhile, the lush and romantic duet “Boats Slowly Sinking” takes you on a different journey, and “Big City Man” unleashes a big city stomp that’ll have you tapping your feet.

This, my friends, is a cool album. It’s a meticulously crafted journey through soundscapes, and it’s a flawless introduction, especially if you’re a newcomer to the shores of Martin Zellar’s sonic universe, much like myself. So, here’s to setting sail on his melodic odyssey, where the West is not just a direction but a state of mind, a sonic horizon that invites us all to explore and find our own resonance within.