Listeners thirsty for thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring tracks can give New York City’s April Martin’sIn the Blink of a Lifea try. Released in December 2016, the folk-inspired album was put together by a woman holding a Ph.D. in clinical psychology who is maintaining a successful practice in the city. After the success of Pennies in a Jar, her debut 2010 album, Martin decided to continue her exploration of the human condition, sharing her thoughts and insights honestly, humorously, and gently.
Most of the 13 tracks are built on softly played instruments and vocal harmonies, giving the entire album a soothing environment of acceptance, authenticity, compassion, and empathy. All the concepts touched upon always seem to come down to one fundamental one Martin believes is at the centre of it all: love. Her vocals seem to convey Martin’s own love for very many things, compensating for the sometimes clumsy lyrics.
Martin begins by setting the tone, melodically, lyrically, vocally, and, most importantly, conceptually in the opening number, “Pause”. “One Breath” sounds like the most cheerful and happy meditation session ever. Reflecting on life is the centre of many of Martin’s tracks, but especially of this one. The chorus emphasises the singer-songwriter’s focus on the importance of love by stating that, at the end of the day, “it’s all about love”. The harmonies and soft, subtle instrumentation in this, the second entry in the set, cement the sound Martin seems to be going for in In The Blink of a Life.
“Heart Break Doesn’t Come” is a refreshing love song. It is based on the reality of love, in all its glorious imperfection, rather than the maudlin and romanticized one that is usually the focus of so much of contemporary popular music. The guitar work is a little less subtle and soft than in the rest of the album, which seems to be a reflection of the strength of Martin’s belief in real love. The country flavours added to this number are quite à propos although the approach taken is quite different; while country often simmers in the pain that love can bring, “Heart Break Doesn’t Come” celebrates the kind of love that, although demanding work and time, is built on the type of foundation and is given the kind of commitment that prevent heartbreak from ever affecting it. If meditation on a topic is needed, this is it.
The drumming in “While I’m Waiting” gives it a slight feeling of urgency, just a slight tremor of it, which comes as a relief—there is space for some of these lesser feelings and emotions even in an album that seems rooted in gentleness and is meditational at times. The emotional “Looking Back” focuses on the life of a friend, with Martin’s vocals and the guitar work wrapping around each other beautifully. It is an attention-grabbing entry in the album, what with the loss and celebration of life coming together so naturally, and the ultimate emotion conveyed being joy.
The ballad “Everyday I Love You More” is another retrospective but this one on the singers’ own relationship which, although she couldn’t have known at the time, went from its humble beginnings to a beautiful, strong, and still growing relationship. Those looking for love and those having found it—either recently or not—will all connect strongly with this track, as it underlines the sweetness of the simple moments in a relationship rather than the trappings and extravagances that other songs, video clips, movies, and television shows seem to encourage. The harmonies are particularly attention-grabbing in “My Rock and My Rain” another number with a refreshing take on love. On the flip side, being in a wonderful relationship doesn’t mean everything is perfect, as reflected in the musing, in “Would You Let Me In” about the foundation of a relationship.
The energy in the sweet “Sara’s Lullaby” makes it more suited for a pre-sleep routine. Also featuring some country flavours, “All I’ve Got” goes down a path slightly different from the other numbers in the melodies it is built one. “One Part Truth” is quite catchy, while “The Party’s In Full Swing” is upbeat and cheerful, despite where its lyrics go. “Praise the Morning” starts closing the album with a deep contemplation on change, the kind that touches us all, caught in the passage of time as we are.
Knowing that Martin is a psychologist gives the album another unique layer of meaning—as if her perspectives on life, shared here in a non-threatening manner, as a type of therapy on their own. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information is available on the artist’s website and Facebook page.