Jason Martin fills his second album with crunchy, riffing rock. The Nashville-based singer-songwriter and guitarist from Baton Rouge recorded “Alcatraz” during a five-day period in Music City. The album’s only nonoriginal song, a take on Thin Lizzy’s “It’s Only Money,” fits easily into Martin’s Lenny Kravitz, Billy Squier, Led Zeppelin ethos.
The album’s opening track, “Blow,” with its sprinting tempo and fuzzy guitar riffs, veers between punk and garage rock. The incendiary guitar solo Martin rips through during the song recalls Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi in full 1970s flight. Martin’s vocals are low in the mix and distorted, a choice that makes them more a part of the whole than the main attraction.
“Ugly,” another blast of garage rock, suggests the influence of Martin’s fellow Nashville resident, rock star Jack White. Although White seems Martin’s most obvious point of departure for “Ugly,” Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, Squier and others who wielded guitars decades before White are clearly part of the song’s ancestry.
“Alcatraz” alternates loud, fast songs with softer, slower selections. One of the latter tracks, “Colorado,” is a good example of Martin’s skillful songwriting. Nearly a ballad, “Colorado” benefits from Martin’s melodic, reverb-sweetened guitar solo.
Martin turns heavy again with “Hate Me.” It’s more evidence of Martin’s songwriting talent, but it also displays the derivativeness that can show up in many of his compositions. The world doesn’t need another White, Squier or Kravitz — but there’s a place for Martin’s original voice and songs that are uniquely his.
The track “Black Hole” may point to an individualistic direction for Martin. Set to waltz time, the spare, not-quite country torch song stands like a flower in a field of rock.
Jason Martin and his band plays with 12 Stones and Burnhouse on Saturday at Bottle & Tap, 11445 Coursey Blvd. Doors open at noon. $15 advance via eventbrite.com; $25 day of. facebook.com/bottleandtapbr; facebook.com/JasonMartinBand.