Vegas Motel is the recent release by Mark Joseph. The artist mentions “Joseph’s 2021 solo release, Vegas Motel, is his third full length album and is a highly personal record rooted in the emotion of the year it was written (2020), yet reaching far beyond the confines of the times. Vegas Motel delicately emotes Joseph’s real-life experiences and relationships dating back to when he was a young man.”
Vegas Motel sounds to me like a timeless and familiar album that embraces the roots of Americana, rock, folk and country. I can’t say there’s much on this album that was unexpected or felt particularly novel but there’s some great predictions, songs and performances.
“The Vegas Motel'' weaves a familiar tale with slide guitar, a country music inspired quality and crooning vocals. It felt like comfort food to me. “Hard Workin’ Man” doesn't go as hard in the paint with melancholy and introduces some fiddle and a slightly brighter feeling. The thing I really enjoyed about it was how warm it feels on the ears. I think the catchy melodies also help.
The energy is ramped with “Nate’s Garage” which is much more rock based and also arguably the most single-worthy song in the batch. I was getting Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band vibes on this song as they leaned more into the country aspect. The song touts a familiar patriotic sentiment I could imagine playing in BBQ’s across the nation.
Up next is “The Life of a Pipe Welder” which is a little more experimental and folk based. There’s some exceptional guitar work and the vocals actually had less of a country singer affectation on this song. “Early Riser” contained my favorite instrumental elements. The fiddle and acoustic guitar create a whirlwind of off kilter bluegrass. “I Love You Till’ I Die” is a straight up warm ballad and is followed up by the intimate sounding “Little Lucy.” Joseph ends with another intimate song entitled “My Friend, Stella Blue” but ends with a pensive ambient section that creates a sense of nostalgia
My only critique is Joseph was playing a little too much into genres rather than a signature sound. Some songs felt more like “this is the criteria of the genre so let’s lean into that” rather than injecting an X-factor into the music which covers the whole album.
Overall, I thought this was a very good if slightly scattered album. Fans of the aforementioned genres should love it.
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