Singer Eric Martin's recent solo work bears little resemblance to Mr. Big, the rock band he fronted in the late-Eighties and early-Nineties, which managed to sell more than 7 million albums worldwide. For proof, just listen to the modern soundcapes of 2002's I'm Goin Sane, and then try to imagine the same guy singing "To Be With You."
Martin's latest record, Pure, is a 36-minute mini-CD featuring acoustic versions of seven tunes culled from his entire career — dating back to the mid-Eighties with tracks from the Eric Martin Band, his solo albums and Mr. Big. To his credit, he doesn't rely on the big singles from Mr. Big, opting instead for the lesser-known "Promise Her the Moon" and "Big Love." In some cases, the stripped-down approach packs more punch than the originals did, sounding grittier and allowing listeners to pick up on the organic vibe Martin's got going here. (By the way, Martin plays acoustic guitar and keyboards on these tracks but is also backed by a three-piece band.) Also included is "Fly," an upbeat rocker that was previously only available on the Japanese version of I'm Goin' Sane.
By no means anywhere near an essential album, Pure still demonstrates how well Martin's voice has aged. And these ditties — although there could've been more of them — resonate with passion, character and melody.