Home Albums Album Review : Dom Martin – Buried In The Hail 

Album Review : Dom Martin – Buried In The Hail 

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Reviewed by Taf Rock for MPM

BURIED IN THE HAIL is a work of art – a genuine masterpiece from a talent the likes of which you rarely encounter in a lifetime.

There is no other way to start this review than to immediately heap such worthy praise on this the highly anticipated third studio album from the Dom Martin camp. Recorded at Ireland’s Golden Egg Studios, produced by Grammy nominated Chris O’Brien and Graham Murphy and co-produced by Dom himself he admits this is the first complete recorded work that he is 100% happy with and proud to release.

Quite a bold statement given the quality of Dom’s previous albums – 2019’s Spain to Italy, 2021’s hugely impressive Live At the Harlington and 2022’s acclaimed A Savage Life. 

Dom is a multifaceted diamond of a talent. Not content with exhilarating jaw dropping skill on the guitar, in both electric and acoustic forms, Dom also possesses a voice that delivers his beautifully crafted stories with raw emotion and feeling. So much talent at such a young age (32) from the Belfast native Dom surely has the world at his feet with this album certain to turn the heads of many who have yet to experience the Martin magic.

We start with HELLO IN THERE. The title in itself is a warm greeting inviting the listener to join Dom on a journey into his mind. Serving as an effective intro to the album we are greeted with the beautiful sound of Dom’s guitar as we sit down at the table of delights eager to consume the feast Dom has prepared for us.

The calming relaxed tone of Dom’s guitar accompanied by one of life’s most beautiful sounds, laughter (not just any laughter but that of children happily playing and enjoying themselves without a care in the world). As is the case at any Dom Martin gig he’s got your attention from the off and for the next 40 minutes you’re going to hang on his every breath and take it all in as you truly live and breathe the Dom Martin experience.

DAYLIGHT I WILL FIND – A foot tapping stomp from drummer Jonny McIlroy introduces this track before we hear that voice for the first time ‘It ain’t about the money, brother I ain’t made a dime’. Lyrics that will resonate deeply amongst most musicians. ‘I would love to help you, but I don’t have the time…but you’ll never ever change my mind.’ Finely crafted lyrics, there’s no resorting to throwaway blues clichés when Dom writes an album.

A song of hope, hold onto your dreams. Everything is possible if you strive to attain your goals. The ultimate goal: To be happy with what you achieve in life despite all the obstacles placed in your path. ‘Leave the fear behind you…..how the good times fly’. 

GOVERNMENT – A word that instils many a reaction when uttered. A sigh and short sharp intake of breath being two of those reactions and that’s exactly how this track starts before Dom’s Celtic influenced guitar style eases into a song that reflects on the current state of our world, Dom conveying his message without delving too deeply into the political side of things.

Yet again – true genius in the lyrics. ‘It’s time … to call it a day …I’ll own up to it… it make me sick … to my stomach’. Subtle yet straight to the point. ‘You were great in company, always nicer to strangers’ I think we can all identify with those sentiments.

A message delivered with intense thought, not a typical protest song about the way of the world but thought provoking, Dom holding back from getting carried away and delving too deeply into a subject that can easily provoke extreme reactions. Each line delivered perfectly with Dom using silence at key points to amplify the message. Very effective.

BELFAST BLUES – The latest single to emerge from this release features a subject no one is more qualified to comment on than Dom himself being a Belfast native. A song about Dom’s formative years when his audience was restricted to the Northern Irish bars.

Opening at quite a pace, demonstrating a rockier side to Dom’s music, Jonny McIlroy’s drums and Ben Graham’s bass set a frantic rhythm to accompany Dom. Dom’s vocals at their darkest so far on this album. ‘In and out of places, I never should have been…Shot, stabbed and burned out …the Belfast blues again’.

Thunderous drums ensure the track continues at pace as Dom ‘grabbed that shovel and dug that hole, threw myself in and watched myself grow’. At his gigs Dom often recalls having to walk away from the people and life he once led in order to live a true life.

This track a mere glimpse into the past life Dom once led is brought to a close with some magnificent slide work. A snapshot of his earlier life perfectly captured and portrayed through the vehicle of his guitar and music. Just as effective as any artist could portray using a canvas and paint. 

CRAZY – A cover of the Willie Nelson composition which was turned into a country music standard at the hands of Patsy Cline way back in 1961. Dom’s unique interpretation of a song most listeners will be familiar with (indeed in 1996 this song became the all-time most played track on USA jukeboxes) there is nothing remotely country or standard about this version. It takes true talent to take a classic and stamp your own mark on it whilst retaining the quality of the original release.

Darker then the original, make that much DARKER. Sung in the style of the American genius Tom Waits or our own Kingston upon Hull native Half Deaf Clatch this is unlike any version you’ve heard before. The deep gravelly vocal, full of despair, almost like an alcoholic/drug addict singing to his vice that he’s ‘Crazy… for feeling so lonely… So blue… Crazy… for loving you’.

Cue that timely intervention of silence once again. The sound of silence … So effective when coupled with the introduction of Dom’s almighty crescendo of a lead break. Helping us rise above it,  Dom’s beautiful guitar lifts our spirits beyond these temporary feelings of despair and depression to reflect on the good times we enjoyed together. A truly beautiful uplifting reflective guitar sound before the darkness returns and drives us crazy once again as the worry sets in. An imaginative innovative take on a classic song.

UNHINGED – We are all feeling a little unhinged after that titanic cover version. This song reflects on another subject we can all identify with. The two-faced nature of people and society in general. We all know the sort – build you up so they can bring you crashing back down to earth with a stomach churning blow. Friends to your face, foes once you’re out of their company.

This song is just like those people, starting off with a happy jolly danceable riff ‘saying hello’ with a smile before Dom introduces the lyric ‘it’s all for show’. The song starts to disassemble you as ‘you’re falling down, falling slow’ as it continues to ‘play stupid games’.

The wonderful riff continues to gather pace getting heavier and inciting you to dance and put your fears behind you, Dom’s superb and quite lengthy lead break amazing yet bewildering you at same time with its sheer quality serving as the ideal distraction to lull you into a false sense of security. The truth is hidden in those lyrics. Just like those backstabbers this song is out to get you, ‘getting these stupid prizes…playing stupid games’. 

Birdsong introduces us to THE FALL. Beautifully strummed acoustic guitar interspersed with this album’s secret weapon … silence. An effective tool used throughout this album. Dom’s darker vocal style returns as he reflects on people and what we do to each other. ‘Feel the river flowing… crushed below the rocks… ruined by their poison… take my hand before we lose it all…We’re ready for the fall’. Thought provoking stuff.

HOWLIN’ – A song in tribute to an artist with a major influence on Dom. Mr Chester Arthur Burnett or Howlin’ Wolf to his friends. It would have been all too easy for Dom to insert a cover of one of Wolf’s tunes such as ‘Smokestack Lightning’ or ‘Howlin’ For My Darling’ but Dom likes to do things differently and composed this delightful track brought to you in the style of Howlin’ Wolf himself.

Ain’t no-one who can ever be this man’ the ultimate praise – a phrase that likewise could easily be applied to Dom himself. Once you finish listening to this masterpiece of an album dig out those ‘Wolf’ classics from the past and listen to the man himself ‘Howlin’ all night long’. Neat double 

bass work from Ben Graham enhances the authenticity of this quality tribute.

BURIED IN THE HAIL – A journey deep into Dom’s mind. A journey that Dom himself admits can be a dangerous one. This is a big number. Just as in your own mind things go on that neither you nor anyone one else can really understand such is the case with this intense track. Full of effects I know not where they come from.

Repeated listens just add more mystery and mystique to the workings deep within this song. A wall of sound at times. It really is a great interpretation of journeying through your mind revisiting some of the places you really don’t want to. Revel in the delight of Dom at his darkest as you ‘take a trail into your mind…to see what’s left’. ‘Breathe it in… exhale’ as you get ‘Buried in the hail’.

The background effects along with Dom screaming at you, almost crying in desperation to get out before you get stuck in your own personal locked room. Voices and sounds from the past and pounding beats of the drums enhance the eerie almost haunting nature of this track. If ever a demonstration of the true genius of Dom Martin was needed look no further then this emotionally charged track. A fitting title track to an album that mere words in a review column cannot do justice to.

LEFTY 2 GUNS – There’s a hitman about. And you’re next on his list, it’s time to end the show. An old fashioned western movie springs to mind as the music paints a picture of the hitman wandering through town searching for you. Just as with a lot of Dom’s music the sheer brilliance of this tune ‘catches you by surprise, you won’t see it coming.’ ‘If he’s got your number … You’re a deadman walking… no way to escape’. The sweetest of solos as Dom’s guitar demands your attention for one final time on this epic album before we are…

LAID TO REST – The final minute of this album a very brief musical outro. Like the curtain closing on our performance. Lefty 2 Guns has caught up with us and we meet our end. 

An album that warrants your attention and rewards the listener. Sit down, take time out and listen. As we always used to with music. To get the most out of BURIED IN THE HAIL play it from start to finish and focus on it. All too often in our fast paced world we play single tracks from an artist often to accompany our daily tasks. But works of art like this deserve your respect.

Listen to it as a whole. Repeated listens uncover more and more rewarding delights. You hang on every note of Dom’s guitar, listen intently to the stories unfolding before you just as you would at a Dom Martin gig.

The future of the blues is in very safe hands as long as we have craftsmen like Dom Martin plying his trade. Don’t take my word for it, grab yourself a copy on 23nd September and let Dom take you on a rewarding journey. After all you’d be CRAZY not to!!

BURIED IN THE HAIL – Track Listing

  1. Hello In There
  2. Daylight I Will Find
  3. Government
  4. Belfast Blues
  5. Crazy
  6. Unhinged
  7. The Fall
  8. Howlin’
  9. Buried In The Hail
  10. Lefty 2 Guns
  11. Laid To Rest

RELEASED 22 SEPTEMBER 2023
PRE-ORDER ALBUM 

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