Though Walter Martin may be best known as a founding member of influential New York indie rockers The Walkmen, he’s carved a unique space for himself outside of the traditional music industry over the past decade, composing award-winning pieces for film and television while simultaneously releasing a series of decidedly un-commercial solo albums—some serious, some humorous, some for kids, some for midlife crises—that have garnered considerable acclaim everywhere from The NY Times Magazine to NPR. Written in the cold, bleak winter of 2021-22, Martin’s latest, The Bear, is an unexpectedly warm and inviting collection, one focused on growth and family and the power of human connection. The songs here are gentle and engaging, with spacious arrangements centered around fingerpicked guitars and romantic piano flourishes from Oscar-nominated Minari composer Emile Mosseri, and Martin’s idiosyncratic vocals are similarly amiable, delivered with the casual demeanor of an old friend who’s pleased as punch you decided to stop by. Like much of Martin’s catalog, The Bear is fueled by an infectious love of language, but this time around the lyrics leave more to the imagination, stepping away from explicit narratives in favor of more abstract streams of consciousness. What ultimately emerges is a lifetime’s worth of snapshots and reflections, a family photo album dumped out on the floor and gathered up into a swirl of moments and memories that tell a million different stories all at once.