From The Horse’s Mouth: Daphne Lee Martin on Fall On Your Sword

Daphne Lee Martin

Daphne Lee Martin

Fall On Your Sword is Daphne Lee Martin’s fourth full-length album, and the first to be produced by the songwriter herself. This collection of songs was written as a whole, threaded together with “stories we heard as children” encompassing memories of fables, fairy tales, Bible stories, mythology, poetry, cautionary tales, traditional folk songs, and American popular culture of the 20th century.

Where this album’s forebears Moxie, the “hooker with a heart of gold” and sister album Frost, the “sweetheart” were all variations on a woman’s approach to love and lust, Fall On Your Sword cuts into the meat of who we truly are on our very own. It is a journey into the dark places of our own personalities and desires, our limitations and fears, and inherent flaws. It demands that we confess, accept, and grow beyond those limitations.

Fall On Your Sword was recorded with 25 of the finest musicians Daphne has met on her extensive U.S. tours. It is the most lush and expansive production in her catalog, with elements of hot jazz, indie folk, latin, opera, hip-hop, and cinematic pop. It sees release via Telegraph Recording Company on October 2.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Martin to discuss the record and this is what she said about it.

When did you begin writing the material for Fall On Your Sword?

I began writing the music for it in the winter after we finished recording Moxie, early in 2013. My drummer from Raise the Rent and I got together and decided on some beat loops to start from and I began building the bones over that winter and spring. It took a while to get into, we were full swing tracking Frost as I was starting to write, so everything moved pretty slowly. The last song that I wrote for Fall On Your Sword was ‘Love Is A Rebellious Bird’, and it wasn’t even going to be on this project. But sometimes you have to listen to your friends, and it made it in- about a month before deadline in May.

Which of the songs on the LP is most different from your original concept for the song?

‘Willing Victim’ is definitely the chameleon on the album. When we play it live it gets much heavier, much meatier than the wispy, ethereal version that made the final cut. Time signatures are big part of where the writing came from and that song starts in 5/4 on the album (inspired by ‘Samson’ by PJ Harvey), something that the band has yet to make happen live. I had wanted to write a piece to bookend ‘Cheers Darlin’ from Moxie, I guess in some ways I’ve always been trying to write something that makes me feel like Tom Waits’ ‘Dirt In the Ground’ mixed with Lucinda Williams’ ‘Unsuffer Me’, something that feels like it’s floating above us and is immovably anchored all at once, and this one gets close.

We’re told you had 25 guest musicians on the record. How did you get them all coordinated? Seems like a job unto itself.

Thankfully, I had all the time in the world to get the parts tracked. I demoed out most of the arrangements with midi sounds and did some emailing around to get the juices flowing. The core band that plays with me live (horns, drums, organ) did their parts, and special guests trickled in over the course of dinner party or visiting-from-out-of-town impromptu ‘hey listen to this and try something while you’re here’ moments.  Little Ugly, a band from Hartford, and I recorded a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People Get Ready’ for example, and while they were hanging out drinking margaritas with me after I threw ‘Bees Made Honey In the Lion’s Head’ on and suddenly had the a bunch of the gang chorus happening off the cuff.

The record covers so many different styles. Was that always the plan? To tackle so many different sounds?

Yeah, that’s universally my plan, simply because it’s all I’ve got. I don’t even know how it happens- I have tried, in the wake of criticism, to write in one genre. I just can’t seem to do it. Believe it or not, this album is the least varied of the four I’ve made. So I’ve decided to embrace the weird and hope for the best. Like most songwriters will tell you, the songs come from outside us, we just catch them as they pass us by- you don’t get to tell the muse what to give you. You just get to choose what to record, and I chose them all.

We hear a lot of Tom Waits in your sound. We assume he’s an influence. What other artists are big influences on you?

Yeah, Tom is tops. I like good writing. Performance is in the back seat to good writing for me- so I get down with folks who spend more time on lyrics than guitar licks. Currently spinning: John Moreland, Joe Fletcher (from whom I borrow unabashedly), on a production level Lana Del Rey, and I’ve been digging deep into Songs: Ohia lately. Because my fella and I own a record shop, I listen to everything all the time. I’m lucky to get so many albums coming through my world, and tons of them get into my head along the way.

Do you have any touring plans for fall?

Sure do!  Headed out for seven weeks starting October 9. Full schedule is at http://daphneleemartin.com/shows

(Catch her live here:

09.19 • I AM FESTIVAL (New London, CT)

09.25 • Jimmy’s Saloon (Newport, RI)

10.10 • Fanwood Music Series (Fanwood, NJ)

10.13 • CMJ Music Marathon (NYC, NY)

10.14 • Way Station (Brooklyn, NY)

10.15 • Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar (Washington, D.C.)

10.17 • Hambone’s (Pittsburgh, PA)

10.18 • Bossy Grrrl’s Pinup Joint (Columbus, OH)

10.19 • Beachland Ballroom (Cleveland, OH)

10.21 • Haymarket Whiskey Bar (Louisville, KY)

10.22 • Melody Inn (Indianapolis, IN)

10.23 • Elbo Room (Chicago, IL)

10.24 • Art Bar (Milwaukee, WI)

10.25 • Frank’s Power Plant (Milwaukee, WI)

10.27 • Filling Station (Bozeman, MT)

10.29 • Tim’s Tavern (Seattle, WA)

10.30 • Le Voyeur (Olympia, WA)

10.31 • The Haul (Grants Pass, OR)

11.01 • Fort George Brewery w/ Sam Cooper (Astoria, OR)

11.04 • Make Out Room (San Fransisco, CA)

11.05 • Milk Bar (San Francisco, CA)

11.06 • Fox Goose w/ Jon Emery (Sacramento, CA)

11.10 • The Lost Leaf (Phoenix, AZ)

11.11 • Cultured Cafe (Flagstaff, AZ)

11.12 • Zinc Wine Bar (Albuquerque, NM)

11.14 • Opening Bell Coffee (Dallas, TX)

11.15 • Hole In the Wall (Austin, TX)

11.16 • Cabo Clear Lake (Seabrook, TX)

11.18 • Siberia w/ Alexandra Scott (New Orleans, LA)

11.21 • Metro w/ Phillip Lee, Jr. (Augusta, GA)

11.23 • Caledonia Lounge w/ Cortez Garza (Athens, GA))

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