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L.A. Beat


Christina Martin and Steven Bowers
Wed, Sep 2
The Slice - Lethbridge



Cover— $5 

Starts at approximately 9:30 p.m. 

Christina Martin— 


With a steady rhythm and swelling strings, "Two Hearts" opens Christina Martin's sophomore album. Produced by Dale Murray (Cuff The Duke, The Guthries, Hayden), Two Hearts offers nine songs made of a hopeful longing that won Christina two Nova Scotia 2008 Music Awards:  Female Recording Artist of The Year & Pop/Rock Artist of the Year. Merging country flourishes with a cinematic folk backdrop, the disc ranges from the choir backed finale of "You Come Home" to the more reserved "Hard Day In June." These stylistic shifts are held together by Martin's songwriting, which plots vulnerability against her strong vocals in manner reminiscent of artists such as Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch. In 1999, Martin left her home in Halifax, NS with a rough course charted for Austin, TX. Within months she was a regular fixture of the Austin bar scene, performing her own material along side acts such as Wilco and singing backup as part of the retro-rock outfit Young Heart Attack. In 2002, Martin began work on her debut album, Pretty Things. Recorded by Darwin Smith the CD contains 12 original songs and features some of Austin’s finest musicians, including Kim Deschamps (Cowboy Junkies), Jon Greene (Torch), Charlie Larkey (Carol King) and Bukka Allen (David Baerwald). With a subdued sound centered around her striking vocals, the songs on the album bare an elegant simplicity derived from the innocence and honesty in their storytelling. After the stateside release of the album, Martin returned to the East Coast where she has continued to regularly perform. Quick to draw attention, her songs were soon after selected for inclusion on the CBC TV productions, Snakes and Ladders and the acclaimed mini-drama, Sex Traffic. Under her own label “Come Undone Records”, Martin releases her new album “Two Hearts”, touring Canada and parts of the US 2008-2009. 


Steven Bowers — 

Steven Bowers was born on a November day in Baie Verte, Newfoundland. He was determined to come out feet first. He grew up in wintry Churchill Falls, Labrador. "Ten months of winter," he says. "It's where I learned to drink and fight”.

He had those feet firmly on the ground though, and looked for something more positive to grasp. Music was it. There was one band in town. He joined, and played New Year's Eve at the local curling club. "Weren't bad," he says now. "But we weren't good, either."

He thought about being a writer, but Lord of the Rings had already been written. He thought about being a pilot, but it turns out you need math for that, and Steven was a non-starter where math was concerned. He thought about going to university for something, but hit the road instead, lit out to explore Canada on his own. In the meantime, his folks moved to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and that's the home Steven returned to when his travels came to their end. Eventually, he did go off to university. He studied Sociology at Dalhousie in Halifax. He held on to music though. He hosted a weekly open mic at the campus bar. Before long, he'd made a record, called In Theory. He sold three hundred copies in less than a week. "Mainly because of all the friends I had in residence," Bowers says. "It wasn't a very good album looking back, I didn't know how to sing or write songs at the time. Still it got some really good reviews and it was the start of what I do now. It was really an accident. I dropped out of university and decided to be a singer-songwriter. My mom made me go back last year and finish my last few credits though, so I did finish the degree."

That done, Bowers has thrown himself into being a singer-songwriter the way he once thought he'd throw himself into being a pilot. "I always think in terms of how short life is, and music is a way of mirroring what you observe, only you get to soften even the darkest image in some way with a sweet melody or an uplifting lyric," he says. "It's a secret way of speaking for people who can't speak for themselves. It feels like you get the better of the bad things in life. I guess I'm an optimistic writer."

Optimistic he may be, but his new record still has that darkness at its core. Called Homing, it features eleven songs marked by heartbreak and longing, and ultimately, a ray of redemption. The title track takes its name from a novel by Halifax writer Stephanie Domet, but its roots stretch back several years. "I watched a special on the Discovery Channel about pigeons and sparrows and other birds who fly into buildings and die because they think they are flying into the horizon. It was very sad," Bowers says. "That image stuck with me and seemed almost too easy a metaphor for people who flock to cities from small towns. Also, pigeons move and weave through people's feet on the busiest of streets here in the city. They go unnoticed, just trying to find some food and make a life for themselves. As a songwriter they are perfect fodder for my incessant need to find despair in something and give it a voice."The title track is written in two parts. The first section is from the writer's perspective when observing a doomed pigeon. The second section of the song features guest vocalist Meaghan Smith. "That part is the pigeon's own poem," Bowers says. "The pigeon knows its whole existence is just a metaphor. The final line 'Always homing, never home' speaks to how we're never truly happy. For me personally, it's a reminder to breathe deep and appreciate life when I can."

It's a theme that surfaces in several of the songs on this new record. Bowers sums it up in Bury Me By the River: "You were the born believer, and I was no God fearin' man. But I prayed, and ours was a good life, and I am grateful for that." 





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