Singer-songwriter Martin Sexton wanted to "share some awareness" as he wrote the songs for his latest album, "Sugarcoating," ranging from reflections on post-9/11 society to railings against self-absorption and other socio-political and philosophical musings.
"There's a thread that runs through most" of the songs, the Northhampton, Mass.-based troubadour tells Billboard.com about the album, due out April 6 on Sexton's own KTR label. "There's always been tastes of awareness on all my records. I didn't have any that deal with a specific idea, like 9/11, but it's all pretty much the same. It's just little more of that spice on this record than on others."
The birth of Sexton's 19-month-old son, Shane -- who's the titular subject of one of the album's 13 songs -- also contributed to the "Sugarcoating's" tone. "He had a whole bunch of trouble coming in, health issues," Sexton explains. "That put everything in perspective as far as career and money and property or material. He was sort of the kid who taught me everything I needed to know, so the record has more of a personal aspect to it as well."
There is lighter material as well, he promises, including the first single, "Livin' the Life," the Beatles-influenced "Stick Around" and the ragtime-flavored "Easy on the Eyes," which features a lip trumpet solo by Sexton.
He and longtime creative cohort Crit Harmon recorded "Sugarcoating" during a two-week stretch in December at Camp Street Studios in Cambridge, Mass.
"It was live off the floor and organic, like I usually do," says Sexton. "They have all this vintage gear there...Every single thing was older than I am. We recorded it all, mixed it down to analog two-track to give it that tape warmth. It was all pretty old school. In addition to the musicians, Sexton also multi-tracked backing vocals in a variety of characterizations, which he's dubbed the Cowboy Trio, the Soul Sisters, the Gay Men's Chorus and the Arm of Islam.
Sexton plans to hit the road starting in April to promote "Sugarcoating." He'll play North America into June, then head overseas for some dates and return home for a fall tour of cities he missed on the first leg. He also hopes to take "Sugarcoating" to Australia this year.