Mixtape of the Open Road is as cohesive and dynamic as the road itself.
Inspired by the cassettes and CDs worn out and shared throughout his indomitable traversals across the United States and Canada, modern day jongleur Martin Sexton delivers a casual, amenable walk athwart the countryside with his own Mixtape of the Open Road. Prior to what some may gather from the title upon initial viewing of the packaging, Sexton’s Mixtape is comprised of entirely new joints, becoming the New Yorker singer-songwriter’s eighth studio album released thus far, his first in five years. Time and travels have only once again offered a slew of world-worn experiences for Sexton to draw from with his new songs, and he hasn’t missed a beat on Mixtape of the Open Road, producing a consistently breezily contemplative record bursting with individuality from between the seams.
“Do It Daily” makes for a grand reintroduction to Sexton’s overarching work, being altogether rootsy and amicable, delivered with a relaxed croon and rollicking sway reminiscent of Bing Crosby and the Mills Brothers. Embracing past sweethearts of making music at large, such as the old school, bassy vocals backing him up on the aforementioned “Do It Daily” and bluesy slide guitar and sing-along chorus of “Remember That Ride”, are a big part of what sets Mixtape of the Open Road apart from both Sexton’s past efforts and the overarching music scene. Unafraid of breaking convention, he delivers himself, rightfully, as a sensible troubadour yet again reinventing his own wheel, developing a surprisingly cohesive sonic potpourri.
Given how Mixtape can be such a mélange of musical prowess, its overall united feeling comes from a singular place, and that place would be Sexton’s idiosyncratic tone and delivery. His voice wraps this package up nicely for delivery. Whether he’s handling the easygoing acoustic jam and should-be single “You (My Mind Is Woo)”, the soulful groove and jive of “Give It Up”, unceremoniously jazzy Americana of “Doin’ Something Right”, or the Motownesque doo-wop sounds of “Dandelion Days”, Sexton acts as a vocal chameleon, commanding the listener’s attention with his perfunctorily apt capabilities at the mic. He can deal a note as tenderly as well as he can with eager charisma, yet it never feels like he’s pushing himself past 11. Everything on Mixtape of the Open Road comes about as sweetly and fluidly as lemonade from a pitcher into a glass, and it’s all about as refreshing in that sense, too.
All in all, Mixtape of the Open Road comes as a hearty recommendation for anyone capable of celebrating music for all that it’s worth. Sexton whistles, croons, pines, roars, and beatboxes his way across 12 wildly individualized tracks, bringing them all together thanks to his own special voice driven by his strong sense of self. While not for the looking for something resoundingly “pop” -- Sexton prides himself here with something beyond catchy modernity in lieu of providing something perceptibly better -- it’s an organic piece of work developed from inspiration on the open road, Mixtape of the Open Road is as cohesive and dynamic as the road itself.