Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze onto Smoking Martha and their self-titled five track EP. Ironically, no one named Martha is in the band; rather, the intense powerhouse frontwoman is Tasha D. Backed by an eclectic, traditional four piece set-up, Tasha is the recurring ‘it’ factor of Smoking Martha. Let’s delve into the music.
Since their 2012 inception, the band has been very active, releasing music and touring extensively. Their live repertoire is very impressive for an independent outfit, and that may definitely contribute to the cohesiveness of their studio output. Immediately, the eponymous record’s quality is abundantly clear, both on the production and performance ends.
‘Bad Choices’ introduces Smoking Martha as a force to be reckoned with, one that harnesses the best bits of classic rock into its sound. At times, Tasha D. harnesses a bit of Janis Joplin in her bluesy musings. More directly, I’d compare Smoking Martha to Heart. Their style of rock is very similar, and if I was to align Tasha D. with one prominent female rocker, it would most definitely be Ann Wilson. She’s got pipes very akin to Wilson’s legendary chops.
While ‘Bad Choices’ is an excellent excursion of rock and roll, the band seems to find their sound much better on ‘Fake Promises,’ a truly wonderful track. From the searing guitar solo to the infectious choruses and driving percussion, ‘Fake Promises’ stands tall as one of the best efforts of the EP. ‘Heavy Heart’ does contend for that position, however, with its bluesy, dark themes delving through a sound immensely suiting to Tasha D.
Finally, ‘All Lit Up’ is a straight up drive-rocker. There isn’t anything that’s going to surprise you, but man, I bet it’s a delightful tune in a live setting. On the record, though, it does stand shorter in comparison to dynamic efforts like ‘Heavy Heart.’ ‘Sweet As Honey’ doesn’t suffer from that, though, and it’s probably the most well-realized exhibition of Tasha’s blues vocals. The track evolves into a superb garage rocker, too.
Smoking Martha has immense potential and this album is a defiant statement of that. They could use a bit more depth; at times, their sounds blend together and I never found myself too taken aback by any lyrical content. As a stepping stone to even more exciting efforts, I think this album is very exciting. On its own, it’s a fun romp through classic rock, perhaps one that’ll go down best live. Check them out below.