Born and raised in St. Ignace, New Brunswick, Canada, Mia Martina doesn’t come from the conditions that you’d expect for a club singer. Yet, the whitecaps of electronic music and nimble, carnal voice packed into Devotion suggest that maybe there’s something to the idea of a Canadian vocalist to fill the nightclubs with more than just watery drinks and bad haircuts.
After emerging from the tiny village of roughly 500 people, Martina took music and voice lessons in nearby Moncton. After high school, she landed an internship at CP Records, home to rapper Belly and R&B singer Massari. The shy girl from St. Ignace had a way in and it wasn’t long before she was singing back-up on records by Belly and Danny Fernandes.
It took “Stereo Love” to launch Martina to the public consciousness, however. The Edward Maya hit was to be remixed and J. Lo was on the docket. After plans fell through, Martina stepped in and, within weeks, the track featuring that famed accordion loop was out and about.
Devotion opens with the aforementioned track, setting an easygoing tone that sounds great in cars with the top down. Make no mistake about it, “Stereo Love” isn’t a groundswell of originality or dexterity. Nevertheless, Martina is affable and sexy enough vocally to float the track.
That’s not to say that there aren’t moments on the album that do showcase her range. “Miles Away” is a gorgeous song, exquisite in arrangement and sophisticated in structure. Simple piano underlines her softer tones, while Mia shows no apprehension in climbing higher up the registry. It’s the best pure vocal performance of the record.
Other spots comprise the compulsory club bangers, like “Burning,” with its saxophone loop and the panting title track, complete with resolute keyboard and a smoking hot beat. “Chasing the Rush” reveals a harder edge from the gentle girl.
“Latin Moon,” the second single from Devotion, is a middling piece that never gets off the ground and “In Your Arms” doesn’t make use of its parts all that well.
Mia Martina is not the type of artist to kick things into the stratosphere vocally, but that’s not exactly the point with this album. Devotion is a summertime record that, in all honesty, should have been released a few months ago to better exploit its dance floor appeal. Even so, Martina’s debut supplies the tranquil hamlet of St. Ignace with an Euro-sized club star of its very own.