Thank God for girls like Kate Martin!

In an age where it seems acceptable to play four chords on a Cole Clark and whisper ambiguous drivel into a microphone for an hour, it almost brought tears to my dry, cynical eyes when I first witnessed Kate Martin’s capabilities at The Toff in Town last Thursday night.

The atmosphere amidst the crowd was relaxed, with a noticeable number of already established fans and friends. Littered among the candle-lit room was also a mix of obvious newcomers inspired by the quality of Martin’s new album. Filling the room capaciously were groups who seemed decidedly happy to sit cross-legged upon the floor in front of the stage, adding to the laconic ambience.

The Queensland songstress’ set was captivating and inspiring. With a quiet, reserved demeanour Martin maintained a beguiling, pleasant atmosphere throughout its entirety, with nothing more than a collection of impressive, engaging songs and the odd anecdotal explanation.

Although Martin is certainly a competent vocalist, it was refreshing to see that she doesn’t exploit this to ensure her music is engaging. A cordial blend of hook-laden vocal harmonies, delicate finger-picked chord progressions with cohesive and dynamic builds established the tone for the set, with every song receiving polite but wholeheartedly receptive applause.

Not just playing the role of fronting her outfit, Martin also maintained a central role musically, with particularly confident guitar playing forming the foundation for the rest of the band’s musical arrangements. Standouts from her recent album Hand Me My Bow and Arrow included ‘Apples’, with its up-beat and infectious chorus, along with the dreamy and percussively potent ‘Embers Burn’.

‘Wild Horses’ delivered a cohesive, harmonic arrangement that she sentimentally described as chronicling the feelings of fear, when one side of a relationship comes on too strongly, while ‘The Darkest Sky (I’d Ever Seen)’ provides charming, rhythmic vocal melodies.

Kate Martin and her band were competent and distinctly comfortable in the intimate surrounds of The Toff, managing to deliver an impressive and dynamic set; leaving the collection of fans with a resoundingly positive impression, affirming her place as an Australian artist to certainly keep an eye on.

– Morgan Benson

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