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Sounding out: Singer-songwriter finds time to record debut album during pandemic

Tim Martin recently released his debut album, “Crude Culture,” under his artist name, No Water No Moon. (Courtesy of Tim Martin)

Singer and songwriter Tim Martin always wanted to record an album, but the timing was not right.

When life as we knew it came to a halt, Martin had the opportunity to complete an album.

“Definitely, the pandemic in 2020 had a massive influence on the album and the timing of it,” he said. “I’ve been a singer-songwriter for over 10 years and have toured and played and whatnot and always had the aspiration to record an album and definitely and all the time spent at home was a huge influence to take this time to do it now.”

The result is Martin’s recently released debut album, “Crude Culture,” under his artist name, No Water No Moon. The indie pop album can be purchased at bandcamp.com and listened to on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.

Martin recorded the album in a minimalist garage studio that he created at his then-home in Taos before moving to Santa Fe. The album was recorded with one keyboard, an electronic drum set, one microphone and recording software. It was mixed and mastered professionally by some of Martin’s friends in the music industry.

“I had the aspiration to finish an album in a year, no matter how good or bad it would be,” he said. “And then COVID hit, and that really, I think, facilitated the process in a weird way because of so much time spent indoors.”

Martin’s day job as a mental health therapist contributed to the music on the album.

“So this year I’ve been just been exposed, through so many people and clients, to kind of the extent of pain and suffering and loss and grief, and I think that for the album it was a way too of challenging all that I was witnessing into something creative and productive,” he said. So in that way, it was kind of my own self-care or self-help.”

A couple of the songs on “Crude Culture” were written about 10 years ago, including the title track and the song “Some of Us.”

“There wasn’t, like, this sense of, like, malaise and almost, like, doom that I feel like there is right now,” Martin said. “So that was another factor too; it felt like some of my songs were more relevant now than they were when I wrote them, so that was sort of the inspiration behind some of those more political songs.”

Santa Fe singer and songwriter Tim Martin has released his debut album under his artist name, No Water No Moon. (Courtesy of Tim Martin)

The songs may have been written before the pandemic, but they are interwoven seamlessly with the music written in 2020, including “You Can’t Explain” and “The Price, which take on some cumbersome topics such as grappling with death, natural disasters and disease.

“I really do try to write my music not just for myself but for others and to have it be something that can kind of be a respite and something that people can go to,” Martin said. “Music, I feel, can take us into dark places and bring a certain level of comfort and presence in the darkness, whereas most of the time I think we’re preoccupied, rightfully so, with avoiding negative emotions, death, other suffering, and for me, this year and this album was really about getting into that collective suffering and sort of just being inside it and just being with it and just seeing whatever came from that place.”

Facing life head-on is the central theme of the album. The songs are lyrically melancholy, but the melodic musical arrangements create a balance that soothes.

“I think for me the tone I really wanted to take with the album was just kind of owning this is where we’re at and this is our culture and this is our world right now, and I think too often both in music and in politics we’re running away from the problem either by denying them or scapegoating them onto others or projecting them onto others or thinking we need to get rid of a certain person or a group of people in order to solve our problems,” Martin said. “And this, for me, was more, like, this disease is born of us, and all these social problems are in us and in me, and, you know, I can feel that, so that’s kind of the tone I was trying to go for.”

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