Folksinger. Diverse, driven songwriter. Multi-instrumentalist. Producer. Independent businesswoman.
Daphne Lee Martin has juggled multiple roles through her career, balancing a road warrior's commitment to the road with a sound that blends the traditions of southern roots music with the sharp sensibilities of New England folk, indie rock, sophisticated soul, and all points in between. On Scared Fearless, her fifth album of original material, she shines a light on her years logged as a touring musician.
Tracking Martin's progress across landscapes both physical and figurative, Scared Fearless is an autobiographical album about the lessons learned — as well as the love that's both made and lost — during an adulthood spent onstage and on the road. Call it a travelogue, perhaps, with entries that tackle the emptiness of modern hook-up culture ("Fuck Tinder, I'm Standing Right Here"), the artistic struggle ("Young Man's Game"), the slow death of a once-vital relationship ("Some Fool"), and the unending battle between the call of the open highway and the lure of home ("Songbirds"). There's heartbreak, honesty, and humor. Throughout it all, Martin decorates the music with acoustic guitar, upright bass, piano, pedal steel, brushed percussion, violin, and other organic instruments, delivering her songs in a manner that's as natural and nuanced as the songwriting itself.
Produced by Martin, Eric Lichter, and Jonah Tolchin, Scared Fearless was recorded in a traditional log cabin in the Connecticut mountains, within earshot of the Connecticut River. There, during a four-day tracking session at Dirt Floor Studios, Martin captured the album's basic arrangements in a series of live performances, with help from musicians like Isaac Young, MorganEve Swain, Matt Slobogan, Jim Carpenter, Thor Jensen, Andrew Sovine, Kieran Ledwidge, Tall Tall Trees, and John Faraone. Although Martin had met most of those musicians in her adopted hometown of New London, Connecticut, she'd written Scared Fearless on the road, during the lengthy solo tours that kept her away from home throughout much of 2015 and early 2016. Those tours took her from coast to coast, where she played a dizzying string of listening rooms, bars, and house shows. Along the way, she pieced together her new album's material in hotel rooms, sound checks, and the front seat of her car. Like Polaroids in a photo book, the songs wove together to create a story filled with candid details: estranged lovers laying together upon a cold bed; a car spilling gravel to the roadside as it speeds into the sun; a packed bag, waiting to be road-bound; a pillow slowly losing the scent of the one whose head once dented its surface. The album's cover, created by John Torres, touches upon some of those images, matching them with pictures taken during Martin's travels.
A lifelong musician whose previous albums have doubled down on her fictional storytelling chops, Martin turns the camera lens upon herself with Scared Fearless. This is the soundtrack to a life spent in the trenches, pulled into battle by one's dedication to art, travel, and exploration. It's an album shaped by mile markers, rear view mirrors, and wanderlust. And, like the highway that runs beneath Martin's wheels, it points her toward a new horizon.