Lifelong Nashville musician Chance Martin was good friends with Johnny Cash, but that’s about as much as you can tie him to something resembling popularity. Martin grew sturdy and strong out of the clay of the Strange South, and his lost gem, 1981’s In Search, is now reissued for the first time by Paradise of Bachelors. Despite the sounds that may come to mind when I mention Nashville musician or Johnny Cash, forget what you think you can assume about Chance. In Search is a bizarre, murky ride through a murky fog of influences that Chance welds together creating something funky, dusty, swampy, and only tangentially connected to folk or country. He can play it straight on the guitar riffing of “Don’t Cry Wolf” or the back-porch intimacy of “Loser Till You Win”, but more often he injects his own eccentricities into these songs. There are bizarre rides like “High Test”, which are so chaotic they may test your ability to follow along. But the best stuff here meshes Chance’s strange, low delivery—sometimes it’s like he’s singing in a musical about psychedelic music, like he’s some underground, over-the-top crooner—with airtight yet surprising songcraft. Songs like “Just Your Way of Tellin’ Me” and “Blue Monday” are odd yet bittersweet, full of equal parts musical zeal and heartache. In Search was an expensive and personal record at its heart, and one that was only really privately pressed. But now that it’s seeing a brighter light of day, it’s clear that Chance was one of a kind, and so is this record.
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