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This Side of Yesterday
Artist: Martha Berner
Label: Machine Records
Time: 10 tracks/43 minutes 20 seconds
Martha Bernerís album, This Side of Yesterday, starts of with three songs that make the album promising. They are interesting and solid tunes that frame a nice singing voice, and reminds you slightly of Joni Mitchell. Unfortunately, the album quickly derails with combinations of orchestration, percussion, and other instruments that do not correlate with one another for a pleasant sound. 

The first four songs point out that she has a lot of potential, but it remains untapped and not well produced. The best song is the third titled, "Poor Little Me." It has deft guitar picking as the frame from which the song is built. However, the lyrics come across as whiney complaints about a relationship. It is followed with a blue grass like song that gets your foot tapping, titled "A Town Called Happiness." 

It is at this point you might as well stop listening to the album, nothing decent or enjoyable follows. The remaining songs sound tired and old sounding that does not keep you interested or ears perked or hopeful for what comes next. 

You should have guessed the rest of the album should be ignored when the fifth song starts with a drum machine like beat and plays around with a Caribbean or island flavor song. They throw in a little slide guitar, and you swear you have heard this somewhere before. 

The sixth song things derail further with more drum machine inspired rhythms that do not fit the pleasant guitar picking. Throw in some very discordant plucks on the piano the song becomes painful. You have to wonder whom on earth thought that it all fit together. It sounds like several people worked independently on different parts of the song and then combined it. The combinations do not work and towards the end the piano notes seem like one extended scratch on a chalkboard it so difficult to hear. It is out of tune and you wonder are they trying to express some kind of emotion with it? Surely, they cannot think this sounds good together or like American Idol contestants they must be told by someone it sounds great. Even with several times through the song Iíd like to just be able to pretend I never heard it. 

Although there is promise for this artist, wait on this album because you will not find it worth the time. 
Robert W. Blake 2/6/2006



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