Starting his career on the streets, one passer-by at a time, Martin Kerr has built a devoted fanbase of thousands.
Often compared to James Taylor and more recently Ed Sheeran (although that might have more to do with his ginger hair and charming English accent) Kerr's storytelling spans the whole spectrum of emotions. His powerful voice and songwriting have earned him high praise from legends like Sarah McLachlan and Bruce Cockburn.
Kerr explains, “You have to make people laugh before you make them cry. To see people experience such a range of feelings with me at my live shows is my favourite thing about being a musician. I always try to send people home with a happy heart.”
It's been a crazy few years. In 2017 he went from busking on street corners to selling out his first major theatre show, then opening for Sarah McLachlan at a 20,000 seat stadium, and landing his album in the Canadian Top 10. It was an arrival of sorts for this globe-trotting singer-songwriter, having racked up passport stamps from 35 countries on his musical travels.
Since that breakout success, Martin has been creating a fresh sound with producer Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen, Owl City). The result is the new album 'Everything is Under Control', combining elements of Kerr’s intimate singer-songwriter approach with Stewart’s contemporary pop sensibilities. Think Dean Lewis, Tom Walker, Lewis Capaldi - Martin fits with the current wave of young confessional singer-songwriters, yet his voice can also take you back to the 70s with a tone that reminds many of James Taylor and Don McLean.
For release day the entire album was re-arranged and performed live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in front of 1200 people. Equally comfortable going solo or fronting a philharmonic, Martin finds himself traveling all over North America performing for communities large and small, old and young.
Most of them go home singing ‘You’re Amazing’, the carefree, toe-tapping first single and most lighthearted track of the album. It's earned radio play across Canada, the UK and the Netherlands and climbed to #4 on the Spotify Viral Chart.
'Enemy', his current single, is a stadium pop power-ballad, that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Coldplay set. It seems on the surface to be about a relationship gone wrong, but on second listen you hear the layers of social commentary, a lament to the divisive times we’re living in. Its the 4th track from this album to be picked up by CBC for national airplay, along with major playlists on Stingray, Sirius XM, Spotify and Amazon Music. You've probably heard it somewhere.
Kerr kicks it up a notch with the follow-up single, Reason a track with echoes of Cool Kids and Pumped-Up Kicks. “You can tell me anything you want, anything you want, I will believe it” goes the singalong chorus, an ironic dig at the death of decency in the post-truth age. Not everyone will get it, even as it gets stuck in their head. It’s a timely tune for the current election season.
On the deeper cuts, Ryan Stewart's production lends a dystopian air to the album. 'Even if I Wanted To' is a love-letter from the hospital bedside of a dying teenager. The intimate 'Magic Beans' sounds like a lullaby for the end of the world. "Hold tight, the sky is turning. Some lights gonna make it through the dark".
In this context the album title, 'Everything is Under Control' takes on its layered meaning. Along with his listeners, Martin is searching for hope amid the chaos of a fast-changing world.
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