It’s probably safe to say that when I rave about Joy Electric, I’m preaching to the converted. I know a lot of people who don’t like Joy Electric or think it’s dumb keyboard/video game music. But then again, Ronnie Martin (the brains behind Joy Electric) doesn’t seem to care about what those people have to say. And if you like Joy Electric, you don’t either.
Old Wives Tales is another progression of the sound of We Are the Music Makers. The medieval imagery is still there, as are the heart-tugging melodies and chords. However, some of the imagery reminds me of Dance House Children days, with a more fairy-tale, children’s story style. Martin even sings of “bumble bees and willow trees,” “gumdrops and trolls,” and “fountains of gold and teacup boats.”
Sure it’s pretentious, but Martin doesn’t claim it to be otherwise. The innocence of Martin’s music has always been one of the main attractions that Joy Electric has had for me. In fact, that seems to be the overall theme of this album; looking for more innocent, carefree times. Old Wives Tales follows this up with some of his strongest writing, especially on “And It Feels Like Old Times” and “Marigoldeness.”
Ronnie Martin also shows off his keyboard playing on songs like Old Wives Tales. For some reason, I’m reminded of albums like Switched On Bach, which featured classical selections played on the Moog.
One of the highlights of this album is “Marigoldeness,” a beautiful love song where Martin sings: “Spiral to the treasure chest/The painted tops, a pretty dress/She’ll catch them if she can/And through the stairways of the castle/She flies, hoping for the bridge to open/Springtime once again, ends/I’m blessed with her marigoldeness.” This gives you a good idea of his songwriting style. Fairy-tale symbols, childhood memories, and medieval tints all combine with some of the cleanest, purest synth melodies around.
Another highlight on this album is the remix of “I Beam, You Beam.” Martin takes the original song and adds an almost hip-hop beat to it, with heavy drums and bass. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Martin do some more stuff like this. It adds a serious groove to his style. The other remixes aren’t too bad either, especially the stripped down version of “Candycane Carriage.”
Okay, so Ronnie Martin’s music isn’t for everyone. But at least he’s not trying to pander to everyone out there. Martin is one of the few artists that I really admire because he does what he wants to do; he stays true to his music and vision. A lot of people may call his music cheesy, but for those of us out there who are fans, this album will definitely not disappoint.