A couple of years back we reviewed Situation Normal by Roger Marshall. Marshall is back with a new release entitled Kingsland Hill. This album is a mix of genres like blues, folk and more. Marshall is ambitious with this release. Marshall has been compared to legends like Dylan, Cohen and Waits. Those really do seem to be an appropriate reference. Marshall’s vocals sound somewhere between Waits and an older Cohen. He has a thick baritone that drips with what I could describe as “a man who has been through some shit.” That’s at least the feeling I get.
The album starts with “Rain Song” and is a mix of country and blues. There’s the rattle of a tambourine, and killer guitar groove and steady beat. The vocals are great not just because of how they are delivered but the melodies as well.
I was not expecting some of the smooth Bossa Nova on “Songbird” but that’s what I got. This song has fantastic percussive elements and the horns feel like a pillow of comfort and solace. Marshall’s vocals sound exceptional and his strained baritone sounds perfect against the music.
“Let It Lie” contains some precise and gentle guitar picking, pads and more that create a pensive and borderline meditative mood. “Be On Your Way” is country inspired with more of a Johnny Cash type vibe. Marshall continues to switch it up from song to song but nothing in left field. The lush and warm “Stepping On My Shadows” is nostalgic and refers to things like memory, meaning and where our path has led.
As the album progressed I felt engaged and excited to hear what was next. Some of the other highlights include “Enemy Lines,” “Headwind” and “Watching The World Unwind.”
The songwriting and delivery is on point here. Marshall is an experienced musician and you can really feel it on these songs. Marshall handles melancholy like a pro by avoiding sounding melodramatic and woe is me. There’s an authenticity to these songs you can’t deny. Highly recommended.
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