Two things separate real musicians from wanna-bes the willingness to tour without quarter, and the head-down attitude to plow forward, faithful in one's abilities. Martin Sexton qualifies on both counts. He busked for the money to make his first album, 1991's In the Journey, and won a Boston-area music award for it. He earned a major-label deal and released three albums before walking away from Atlantic after 2000's Wonder Bar. He self-released a live album and another of holiday songs, but cached his material, bided his time, and toured like he was running from creditors or the law. It was worth the wait. His latest, Seeds, is easily Sexton's best, putting together his warm, soulful voice with full, nuanced rootsy arrangements and smart, hook-lined songs. From the album sequencing to the production's lived-in vibe to the full roster of talented musicians and backing vocalists, Sexton's assembled an exceptional album that channels Otis Redding, The Band, and Randy Newman. Though always a spirited performer gifted with versatile blue-eyed soul pipes, the songs were sometimes lacking. Not here. Full of hearty, hopeful autobiography, he recounts his musical passage ("Failure," "How Far I've Come") as metaphor for the faith and dreams that animate us all.
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