The holidays are coming, and Martin Sexton is getting a little nostalgic. Looking back at the classic Christmas albums of some of his idols, the 39-year-old singer-songwriter couldn’t help but feel some of his own holiday reflections bubble up. “Being a singer-songwriter, I thought, ‘hey, why can’t I sing these songs?’ But if I did it, I thought I’d do it in a way which I haven’t really heard, which is just simple with a voice and a guitar.” With his traditionally laid-back approach, Sexton viewed his latest LP, Camp Holiday, as “some kind of companion to your chestnuts, turkey and eggnog.”
While the simple orchestration and subtle vocals Sexton used on Camp Holiday might make for fitting renditions of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Silent Night,” the singer’s popularity can probably be attributed to a different aspect of music. Sexton’s dynamic live performances, which often includes an array of musical styles and vocal acrobatics, are consistently touted as a supreme display of his various talents. This ability to please doesn’t come as a huge surprise when one considers Sexton’s history as a performer.
Sexton explained that, coming from an especially large family, his vocal abilities gave him the attention he craved as a kid. His career, which got its start on the streets and subways of downtown Boston, has rested upon a passion for his craft and a dedication to its business, or what Sexton referred to as “the wheels of commerce.”
Starting his own label in 2003 has work well for the singer, who has seen the benefits of maintaining greater control over the direction of his career. Business sensibilities aside, Sexton is a performer first, career-man second. His passion for peculiar voices and imitations has clearly stayed with him, and he seems at ease peppering a casual conversation with the occasional dose of backwards-talking and Santa impersonations.
Sexton has difficulty pinpointing the influences from which his improvisatory vocal style emerged. “I think I’m a bit of sponge in that I don’t listen to a lot, but when it hits me, it sinks in deep,” he said. His abilities have been evident in his studio albums and live performances, which seamlessly fade between shades of acoustic soul, mid-tempo jazz and bright power rock.
Making a stop at The Ark this Saturday night, Sexton hopes to continue captivating audiences in the same manner as he has throughout his career. With his colorful voice and innate flair for musical showmanship, it’d be hard to argue that he’ll stop anytime soon.