Walter Martin: Tiny Desk Concert Best known for his role with The Walkmen, as a solo artist he makes unabashedly joyful, sweetly innocent and playful music. And only he would arrive with a barbershop quartet.

Tiny Desk

Walter Martin

Only Walter Martin would bring a barbershop quartet to the Tiny Desk. Best known as a singer and multi-instrumentalist with the band The Walkmen, Martin has spent his solo career making unabashedly joyful, sweetly innocent and playful music perfectly suited for quirky four-part harmonies. It works particularly well on the song with which he opens this performance, "I Went Alone On A Solo Australian Tour," a brilliant and comical call-and-response story-song about, well, going alone on a solo Australian tour.

Like much of Martin's music, the song, from his upcoming album Reminisce Bar And Grill, is wry and plain-spoken, finding humor and heart in life's smallest moments. But unlike his previous batch of mostly children's songs (on 2014's We're All Young Together and this year's My Kinda Music), "I Went Alone On A Solo Australian Tour" is really a weightier meditation on where Martin finds himself in life, now, as a married middle-aged father. He follows it in this set with the equally charming if slightly more wistful "Me And McAlevey," a reflection on his close friendship with a songwriter from Maine and the power of music to give meaning and perspective to life.

Martin closes with "Sing To Me," his best-known song, thanks in no small part to its appearance in an Apple ad. While the original version includes a conversation sung back and forth with Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O, Martin here takes on both parts and slows the tempo down just enough to find the loneliness at the heart of what is otherwise an earnest love song.

The barbershop quartet Martin brought along for this Tiny Desk performance is known as The Glen Echoes, a group of singers he found online and met for rehearsals the day before coming to NPR.

Reminisce Bar And Grill is due out early next year on Flottante Music.

Set List

  • "I Went Alone On A Solo Australian Tour"

  • "Me And McAlevey"

  • "Sing To Me"

Musicians

Walter Martin; Josh Kaufman; Jamie Krents; Brian Kantor; Richard Cook; Ken Sleeman; Mike Holmes; Al Blount

Credits

Producers: Robin Hilton, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Niki Walker, Alyse Young, Nicholas Garbaty; Assistant Editor: Alyse Young; Production Assistant: Salvatore Maicki; Photo: Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Ty Dolla $ign plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Ty Dolla $ign (Home) Concert

The R&B superstar assembled some frequent collaborators — including Skrillex — for a six-song quarantine concert.

GroundUP perform a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

GroundUP Family Dinner (Home) Concert

Gregory Porter, Brad Mehldau and Chris Potter all appear in this 18-musician Tiny Desk quarantine concert, organized by Snarky Puppy's Michael League.

Katie Pruitt plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Katie Pruitt (Home) Concert

The Nashville singer-songwriter delivers an empowering performance in this Tiny Desk quarantine concert.

Spillage Village plays a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Spillage Village (Home) Concert

Let the Atlanta hip-hop collective take you to church in its Tiny Desk quarantine video.

Christone "KINGFISH" Ingram plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Kingfish (Home) Concert

The blues prodigy performs a special Tiny Desk show at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Miss.

Gracie and Rachel perform a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Gracie And Rachel (Home) Concert

The pop-meet-classical duo perform a quarantine concert from their New York City apartment.

Ozuna plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Ozuna (Home) Concert

Global superstar Ozuna performs five songs in quarantine for Tiny Desk.

Bebel Gilberto plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Bebel Gilberto (Home) Concert

Two members of Brazilian musical royalty unite for a special Tiny Desk quarantine performance (and a heck of a view).

Carlos Vives plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Carlos Vives (Home) Concert

Colombian actor and singer Carlos Vives has been performing Latin American hits for almost 30 years. His Tiny Desk (home) concert is part of our Hispanic Heritage Month extravaganza.

Lido Pimienta plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Lido Pimienta (Home) Concert

The Polaris Music Prize winner kicks off our week-long Tiny Desk celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Back To Top