Between Rock and an Indie Place: “Blue Skies” by L. Martin

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A few entries ago, I reviewed the single “She’s Gonna Leave You” from beloved Chicago indie-rock band, The Walters. In that same review, I mentioned their announcement from earlier this year that the band will be taking a hiatus so the members can work on solo albums instead. Well, it’s happening. This past month, The Walters’ former front man, Luke Martin Olson, released his very first solo single, “Blue Skies,” under the name L. Martin.

Being a fan of The Walters since their formation in 2014, I honestly couldn’t have been more upset when I heard the news of their split. However, Olson has given fans something to be very excited about in this new single. It’s hard not to compare the single to his band’s previous work, and I think that “Blue Skies” stands up there with some of their smoothest songs that manage to make me sink into the floor.

Olson has also provided us with one of those classic goofy music videos that fans know and love. The music video for “Blue Skies” is somewhat reminiscent of other music videos by The Walters, such as the music video for “Goodbye Baby,” which features the five of them eating a massive sub sandwich in a bubble bath. Olson has this way about him that leaves audiences ambivalent yet somehow incredibly entertained. He gets right up to the line of being ‘way too out there,’ without actually crossing it.

“Blue Skies” features one of the elements of indie-rock that I absolutely love, which are its simple, relatable lyrics. Although, I will admit I am quite biased since I am already inclined to love the sound of Olson’s voice as a long-time fan of The Walters. In the song, Luke sings,

“I wonder what I’ll achieve,
the one I’ve been trying to be.
Those days go by pretty slow,
the thick white Wisconsin snow.”

His lyrics end in a predictable end-rhyme and the diction isn’t too highly sophisticated, but I still love the quiet familiarity that he offers here. Especially as a native to the Midwest, I love the image of “the thick white Wisconsin snow.”

I am incredibly pleased with the first of The Walters’ solo experiments. I was pretty nervous that I would automatically hate it because I’m still so bitter about their separation, but after a few listens, though, I realize that there’s nothing to be worried about. “Blue Skies” is still fantastic, containing many of the same aspects of indie-rock that got me into the oldies-revival band in the first place. I am eager to hear what else L. Martin has to offer in the future.

— Noah Slowik, Fiction Editor & Music Blogger

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