Martin Kelly is a man who knows how to pen a tune. As one half of Scottish folk duo Martin & James, Kelly has already seen two full-length releases put out via Universal Music, and has won accolades over a number of years spent playing live shows, supporting artists from fellow Scot Amy MacDonald to Paul Weller.
It’s no surprise, then, that his debut solo EP this August, Fine Love, is a solid output of clever composition alongside haunting Dylan-esque vocals. Kelly carried the sound of his small Scottish hometown across to Berlin back in 2009, and it’s perhaps this dislocation that we hear in ‘Far Away’: a reflection on the places and people left behind. ‘Like a message in a bottle doesn’t know where it’s gone / In waters unknown, I am far away from home’.
More of an exploration than a departure
Fine Love feels like a chance for Kelly to showcase his range; as a lone guitarist on opener ‘A Match Already Burned’ and also with a full band on ‘Far Away’. The emotion in the title track comes across through the piano-led melody and we’re even given a glimpse of distortion – the furthest Kelly is willing to tread from his traditional folksy territory. Neil Young is cited as an influence, and you can hear Kelly’s rock sensibilities beneath the structure of several of these songs.
Film geeks will recognise his music from the soundtrack of Amelie Rennt
The EP seems more of an exploration than a departure, and Kelly will reunite with the other half of Martin & James for a forthcoming third album. Kelly continues to win fans and friends; film geeks will recognise his music from the soundtrack of Amelie Rennt – winner of the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale this year. Whatever name it comes under, be sure to keep an ear out for his music for some time to come.