Perhaps the most endearing of all human qualities is to create from adversity. When in difficult situations, many of us have sought introspection through the art of creating something that is truly personal, yet so collective in the emotions that they entail. The musical discography of Martin Reynolds births out of adversity — having been locked down like the rest of us, Reynolds decided to express himself through the strum-and-hum of his acoustic guitar.
Having teased a few singles previous to the album’s release, Where There Is Hope consists of ten neatly lined tracks with an enjoyable runtime of thirty-four minutes. The album is characteristically a healthy mixture of alternative folk borrowing some elements of indie-folk and classical folk genres. The collective opens up with Strange Days Indeed, a previously-teased song that has made its way through to the album. The track is an acoustic number with a warm tone where Reynolds sings about the uncertainty of the status quo and the gradual disappearance of structural societal order — one of comfort and familiarity. Reynolds sings, ‘We’ve got to get back to normality / Truth be told I’m not quite sure what that means’. Notwithstanding the topsy-turvied world, Strange Days Indeed reminds us to be content with the essential things that we have around us and to cherish them through hardships.
God Bless This Broken Road is more balladic, almost even Beatlesque with the jovial acoustic and layered harmonies behind the main vocals. It can be called the album’s romantic number, with the vocals narrating the gracious goodwill of the subject of the track — ‘You’re the real rockstar / You don’t want no praise / You do it out of love/ You don’t need no cape’. The Boy’s Got Rhythm is more upbeat — the track opens up with Reynolds’ acapella and quickly gets married to the traditional combination of the folksy acoustic and tambourine. Certainly an anthemic number, the track may also feature various listeners beginning to tap their feet to the ridiculously catchy groove.
If These Walls Could Speak features a beautiful marriage between the harmonica and the acoustic harmonies, making it a thoroughly congenial listen. No One’s Ever Truly Gone and Little Robert are both folksy shanties, narrating stories of occurrences in small and familiar neighbourhoods. The latter is perhaps a song sung in retrospect narrative about a boy who disappeared before ordinary eyes, with slight bluesy lyricism and arrangement.
Profits Vs. People is Reynolds’ stream of consciousness about a consumerist status quo, where people get divided amongst each other narrowed by the transitory promises of wealth and fame. It is a thoroughly moody track, where Reynolds’ vocals shine through to represent the depth of his worry about increasingly divisive groups in society. I’ll Crawl borrows the thematic inclinations of its previous track and dives into the issues of freedom of speech and equality — a track highlighting the importance of shared humanity.
The harmonica makes its way back in The Sea And The Moon, a mellowed and more moody number — that carries on the ideas of fraternal love and shared humanity. The lyrics — ‘If We Haven’t Got Each Other, Then What Have We Got?’, do brilliantly to encapsulate the emotions people face when everything in the world appears menacing and unfamiliar. Perhaps the unity of the sea and the moon represents a rendezvous of utopia. The Sky Ain’t The Limit is an uplifting track that collects the emotions of the entire album into one well-produced track, calling the curtains on a truly endearing and captivating piece of work.