Emerging contemporary UK artist, Sarah Martinson, has released her debut album, Back To You, sharing the extremely personal yet universally true tales of loving, losing, and celebrating life. Having recently released “It Ain’t Over” in anticipation of the new album, Martinson was instantly established as an up-and-coming artist who finds eclectic and unique ways to merge her jazzy-pop soundscape with modern soul and contemporary elements.
Back To You showcases extraordinary musical talent as Martinson collaborates with different musicians for every song, creating a distinctively varied sonic environment that exhibits Martinson’s ability to mould her craft yet maintain her own originality and voice in every piece. From disco to pop-piano ballads, to a capella electronics, Back To You revolves around one main idea: no matter where we go, who we meet, or what mistakes we’ve made, we are still ourselves and we still owe ourselves a lot of love, gratitude, and forgiveness.
Lyrically, Back To You explores the last decade of Martinson’s life, vulnerably detailing love, loss, and change. Opening with the track “Always,” Martinson introduces herself as the narrator of the album with a choral/pop fusion, reminiscent of the vibes of Jacob Collier. She goes on to explore the joy of love with the next two tracks, “Back To You” (title track) and “We Should Stick Together,” the latter exploring a disco/funk sound and including unique instrumentation such as a talk box, lots of horns, strings, old school mellotron, harp, and lots of percussion.
The next three tracks see Martinson dive into the emotions of being uncomfortable, wanting more, and needing change. Representing her desperate need for more, Martinson turns inward as the lyrics explore her inner thoughts and the path she took to follow her passion: music. The album continues with a few cheeky breakup songs, including “It Ain’t Over” which sees Martinson collaborate with Andrew Seely as they pair dive into a combination of disco-funk and hip-hop influences for the ultimate modern mashup. Concluding with “Bluebirds” and “If We Knew,” Martinson returns to her take on choral compositions that bridge modern pop with the classical world as she lyrically explores two different takes on understanding loss.
Musically, the album takes a unique shape as Martinson collaborates with different musicians for each track. Recorded during her years at Berklee while studying for her Master’s degree, each song on the album was written around the exact capabilities and strengths of the various musicians who performed on each piece, with each track having a completely different set of musicians. “The needs and strengths of the musicians completely influenced the style, vibe, arrangement, key, tempo…everything for each song. I imagine the songs would be very very different if only 2 of the musicians had been different,” says Martinson.
Overall, Back To You exhibits Sarah Martinson’s love of a fierce horn section and a funky ‘70s-inspired bass line contrasted with her innocent, classically trained vocal sound. Never settling on one vibe, Sarah’s love for nature and her jazz and classical roots shine through in a sound that is reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, Sara Bareilles, and Vulfpeck.