From the very beginning, Martine Locke has led a do-it-yourself kind of lifestyle. She was born in the Australian outback to parents on the lam from the law (her father had been arrested for embezzlement and skipped town while out on bail). She spent much of her childhood moving around all over the continent. While far from secure, it did give her an interesting back story, and most importantly, prepared her for the nomadic lifestyle she now leads as an independent folkstress.
The Irvington-by-way-of-California resident is releasing her first live album, recorded last November in front of a sold-out crowd at the IndyIndie Clubhouse. Typical of Locke's career, it's a cozy-sounding recording, like you'd expect from the many living room concerts she performs.
The overall sound, recorded by Karl Zemlin from Sonic Artistry, is crisp, and Locke had a hand in nearly every aspect of the project – from mixing to the CD layout.
And of course there's the music. The 15-song set, at turns hypnotically placid and emotionally intense, shows off Locke's ability to engage an audience. Opening with the infectious energy of "Free Falling," off her latest album Undone, Locke jokes with the audience after asking who wants peace, love and honesty and commented only two people raise their hands.
Other tracks, like the funky, sandal-wearing "Devil's Clothes" and the twisty, propulsive "Final Breath," keep the momentum firmly going forward. When Locke does slow the proceedings, there's an explanation. The honeyed confessional "I See Your Eyes" is a new song Locke wrote after she finally learned how to love her mother for her. The paralyzing lullaby "If I Were a King" is an impassioned cry for gay rights, and when introducing the hushed, angelic "Fall from Grace," she says, "There's no right or wrong path. There's just a path. You either take it passionately or you don't."
The composition "Hallelujah," elicits Locke's strongest vocal performance of the night. It's 8 and a half minutes of majesty, in which she reclaims the word from "all the people who choose to speak with love on one side of their face, and hate on the other side." The crowd sits rapturously until being prompted to join in for a hushed sing-along.
The final two cuts, "Hey Girl" and "Wonder Why," are loose rockers that allow Locke and the rest of her band – Dionne Ward on drums and Jamie Price on bongos – to work themselves into a frenzy. On "Wonder Why" Locke asks is it just me, or does it feel like the sky is falling? No, the crowd responds, before Locke implores, "We can make a change."