Two years ago, Martin Kerr went from singing on street corners to selling out major theatres, opening for Sarah McLachlan at stadium shows, and landing his independent album in the Canadian Top 10. It was an arrival of sorts for the globe-trotting busker, who had racked up passport stamps from 35 different countries on his musical travels, starting in the U.K. and finally settling in Canada.
Since that breakout success, Martin has been creating a fresh sound with producer Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen, Tyler Shaw). The result is the new album Everything is Under Control, combining elements of Kerr’s intimate singer-songwriter approach with Stewart’s contemporary pop sensibilities. Think Dean Lewis, Tom Walker, Lewis Capaldi - Martin fits with the current wave of young confessional singer-songwriters, yet his voice can also take you back to the 70s with a tone that reminds you of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Don McLean.
The carefree, toe-tapping first single and most lighthearted track on the album, “You’re Amazing,” earned radio play across Canada, the U.K., and the Netherlands and hit #4 on the Spotify Viral Chart.
“Enemy,” his current single, is a stadium pop power-ballad, that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Coldplay set, with dark, intimate verses and a soaring chorus. It seems on the surface to be about a relationship gone wrong, but on second listen you hear the layers of social commentary, a lament to the divisive times we’re living in. It’s the fourth track from this album to be picked up by CBC for national airplay, along with major playlists on Stingray, Sirius XM, Spotify and Amazon Music.
Kerr takes it up a notch with the follow-up single, “Reason.” The track has more of an indie vibe with echoes of Cool Kids and Pumped up Kicks. “You can tell me anything you want, anything you want, I will believe it,” goes the singalong chorus, an ironic tirade at the death of democracy and privacy in the post-truth age. "You can follow anywhere I go, anywhere I go, you don't need a reason". Not everyone will get it, even as it gets stuck in their head. It’s a timely tune for the current political climate.
On the deeper cuts, Ryan Stewart's production lends a dystopian air to the album. “Even If I Wanted To” is a tragic love song written at the hospital bedside of a dying teenager. The minimal “Magic Beans” sounds like a lullaby for the end of the world.
In this context the album title, Everything is Under Control, takes on its multi-layered meaning. Along with most of his listeners, Kerr is searching for something, struggling to stay afloat while putting his best face forward in a fast-changing world.
Everything is Under Control is out on Oct 18th, worldwide