Martina San Diego
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Martina San Diego

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Blank Walls Album Review"

Artist: Martina San Diego
Album: Blank Walls
Review by: Heath Andrews
Rating 5 Stars (out of 5)

Previously the vocalist for the all-female band, Ivy Rose, Martina San Diego took a sabbatical from the group in 2013 to write and record her debut solo album, Blank Walls. Though it plays more like an EP with its six songs (plus one bonus track) the content of those songs is full of meat; in the sense of having rich instrumentation, beautiful vocals, and strong overall songwriting. The blending of San Diego’s lovely voice with the gorgeous guitar arrangements gives Blank Walls an elegant kind of beauty for a singer-songwriter album and leads to a consistently strong listening experience.

San Diego comes across as a kind of softer, melodic Lisa Loeb in many ways. Her voice is sweeter, her arrangements are softer, and her tone is gentler. “Wanted,” the album’s lead track, demonstrates this with ease. The song starts with crisp drumming and soft acoustic guitars, backed by a surprisingly forceful bassline. As she sings about wanting to be more than what she is during the chorus, the backing vocals San Diego lays down add to the sense of melody and charm. But another part of the song’s weight comes from the simple keyboards which reflect upon the song’s emotional content.

“Guard Down” is the song that follows and is similar enough in its arrangement. Lyrically the song is harder hitting, sporting the repeated lyric, “Now look what you’ve done/she is bleeding out, all of the hurt/and as she falls to the ground thinking why did I let my guard down? She mixes things up with a bridge that completely changes the song’s rhythm before leading back into a breakdown of the chorus. It’s a little difference, but it’s enough to give the song a unique personality as well.

In terms of personality, “Someday” provides this in droves. As opposed to the rest of the tracks, this one is immediately plucky and vibrant. The bass and acoustic guitar both bounce along under San Diego’s tranquil vocal. But when the chorus hits, everything takes a step up as a synth horn section comes in. Following this, the second verse becomes instantly catchier thanks to the addition of handclaps, leading to the entire song in general becoming a delightfully poppy affair. An alternate version of this number is provided at the end of the album, featuring just San Diego and her acoustic guitar. The inherent sunniness of the song is evident in her tone of voice and the giggle fit she bursts into as it winds down. The album version is the definitive one, but the alternate take does showcase San Diego’s personality in a distinctly musical way.

The album’s two softer tracks, “Crystal Clear” and “Stars” both rely on the strength that comes from the blending of San Diego’s voice and the layering of guitars. The former has a very simple drum track and places sonic emphasis on the rich mixture of guitars and keys. At this point in the album, we’re already well familiar with how gorgeous the vocals are, but this musical bed allows them to take center stage. The only part of the arrangement that competes with San Diego are the short bursts of lead guitar that strike up now and then. But these bits are more of a compliment to the vocals than anything. “Stars” on the other hand brings back the strong bass performance and pairs it in the rhythm section with a light percussion track that plays more heavily to the cymbals and hi-hat than it does the actual drums. The atmosphere here is played up remarkably well and marries the tone of San Diego’s vocals in perfect fashion.

The album comes back around full circle with the title track, another Lisa Loeb kind of number that sounds like it would’ve fit with the first two cuts. It is however, a softer, more tranquil piece than its sonic brethren for the most part, aside from the end of the track where more bursts of electric guitar help it to end with a bit of emotional grit and force. Not only does this give the song a nice burst of energy to end on; it closes the album proper in strong form.

Blank Walls is a short but sweet album of strongly written and performed singer-songwriter material from Martina San Diego. If you’re not a fan of the genre, it’s not likely to win you over, since it very much is strongly tied to that style and sound. However, anyone looking for a pristine collection of just such material is certain to find it here. Blank Walls is a beautiful album propelled by a gorgeously voiced singer and should be a welcome addition to the collection of anyone who enjoys this style of performance. - Heath Andrews


Blank Walls

  • Released: 2013
  • Label: 22 Tango Records
  • Producer:  Cattski Espina
  • Single(s): “Wanted”


  • Released: 2018
  • Label: Independent
  • Producer:  aReJay Ella
  • Single(s): “Bridges”



MARTINA SAN DIEGO is a Filipina-American singer-songwriter best known for her delicate melodies and her knack for raw and heartfelt songwriting. 

Martina’s talent was fostered from an early age as part of a music-loving family. At the age of 15, Martina began to hone her songwriting skills as the lead vocalist of the band Ivy Rose. During that time, Martina released two albums with Ivy Rose--"This Adventureand "Rain"--made it to the Las Vegas round of America’s Got Talent in 2012 and opened up for Ben Folds & Weezer at the University of Maryland’s annual “Art Attack” concert series.

 In 2012, Martina took a year off to connect to her roots in the Philippines. She cherished the island lifestyle, and drew on the spirit of ingenuity and fresh perspective to inspire her music. Martina wrote and released her solo debut album, "Blank Walls" under independent record label 22 Tango Records before returning to the United States.

While in the Philippines, Martina also collaborated with Kyle Wong for the single “Balay Ni Mayang”, which won 3rd place in the Visayan Pop Music Festival, “Vispop” in 2013. The song highlights Martina’s distinct voice, carrying the track not only to the top of the local radio charts, but also internationally online where it has reached over 2 million global streams and counting on Spotify.

Currently based in New York City, Martina was named NY Singer-Songwriter Sessions Artist of the Month and a Breedlove Guitars Artist while attending New York University.  Since completing her B.A. in Songwriting and Recorded Music at NYU, Martina independently released the EP "Illuminateand continues to work on writing and producing new music.  In addition, she is the founding teacher at the Martina San Diego Music Studio where she proudly shares her love for music and songwriting with her students.

Band Members