Canadian songsmith Christina Martin returns with “In Control,” the second blistering single from her unreleased eighth studio album, Storm.
After the ethereal sweep of opening single, “Stay With Me,” second salvo “In Control” is a pounding percussion-led odyssey about the battle between the need to feel in control, and the need to just let loose.
Dealing grace and grit with equal aplomb, it’s a fitting follow-up.
“This song is about wanting to return to a feeling of being in control, but only after letting go and experiencing some of the human vices that lead to temporary pleasure. I’m pretty well-practiced at living a routine, discipline, and healthy life, but I’m still a mess a lot of the time, and turn to my sources for help getting back to the sense of feeling in control.”
Like all the best sequels, “In Control” is a darker, duskier beast than its predecessor. Grappling with the all-too-common clash between the desire for control over one’s life and the temptation to throw caution to the wind, it finds Martin doing what she does best: taking the deeply raw and personal, making it something instantly relatable, and firing it off in a sonic barrage that grabs you by the scruff and won’t let go.
With clunking drums and broiling guitars swirling like whirlpools beneath, Martin’s restless vocals glide delicately over it all. Tackling hefty themes, “In Control” is very much a song of two emotions, split egos crashing against the edges of the record. Order and chaos slugging it out to that brawny, arena-inflected drumbeat. The verses march relentlessly, whipped along by a crunchy rock guitar with the ghostly, echo-lathered backing vocals sending a spear of anxiety right through the middle. Yet occasionally the song breaks fleetingly into major key, like a whale breaking the surface, unashamedly hopeful with soaring Bowie-tinged synths. Neither part sticks around for too long either — the whole affair is a gripping musical tug of war.
Martin’s lyrics are typically piercing. She artfully sketches the portrait of a figure fighting to keep control of their life, whilst the desire to hang the rules and consequences with them tugs at every line. Simple, powerful, and enigmatic all at once, like a frantic internal monologue ebbing and flowing in time to the music. Martin’s vocal delivery is characterful, desperate yet heavy with the world’s troubles, and occasionally rising to a furious frustrated cry.
The majority of the track was recorded in the century-old Capitol Theatre, an Art Deco antique in Oxford, Nova Scotia not a stone’s throw from Martin’s home. With those growling lead guitars, bass, and pounding drums laid as the bedrock, the track also features all manner of sonic delights from synths, stomps, claps, clangs, and cowbells all drizzled on top. Raw and resolute, “In Control” is a thoughtful, hypnotic outing for Martin with a real emotional undertow. An anxious, urgent march that packs all the punch of a thundercrack.
“In Control” also has an accompanying music video — the second collaboration with acclaimed director Brendan Henry. Henry delivers an epic, cinematic musing on the industry’s need for artists to (metaphorically and literally) break themselves for their art. The video features a giant custom-designed statue of Martin, broken and falling to earth, and all the colossal pieces needing to be gathered from around the globe. Icaran, fable-like, and with a wide scope worthy of such a pounding track, it’s a suitable companion to the single.
Christina works with an expert consultant, Sensory Friendly Solutions, on finding ways to make her in-person and online events more accessible, inclusive, and sensory-friendly. For the official music video launch of “In Control,” custom closed captions will be added to YouTube and Facebook, and the audio-described version of the music video will also be published.