Why not invite your favourite independent musician to play for your friends family and his fans in your front room, I’ll be surprised if he/she won’t show up sometime this year and play for you, let me know about it and if The Medicine Show Radio Moose Mobile is loose is near enough we’ll come and broadcast it too. If you would like to help keep the wheels on the Hub and on The Moose become a patron at
Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
The M. stands for Mark but with two other Mark Lucas musicians out there this particular Mark has launched his solo career under a simple M. Born in Kentucky, he has been surrounded by traditional music all his life, latterly earning his keep in a folk duo and then in roots group Billyblues. That sounds like it all led to this point; he's spent the last couple of years working on the songs contained on Dust and on the companion album which will follow later in the year.
More a distillation than an exploration, the ten songs on Dust evoke an old America in pretty much the way The Band did all those years ago. This is not to say that this music sounds like The Band, it's just that he succeeds in evoking a world before six-lane highways and palaces to consumerism without ever playing strictly traditional music. If the overall sound reminds me of anyone, it's probably Lyle Lovett but the man experiments with so many different sounds over the course of the album, it's his distinctly rough-edged, bruised vocal that is the unifying characteristic. There are some guest spots from various musicians, notably some very fine fiddle playing that lights up the one traditional song, "Lost John". However, Mark says on his website that mostly he worked on these songs by himself, striving to get a particular sound that he wanted and for that reason it feels to me that these songs might sound quite different played live by a full band. As good as the production is I can't help feeling there's a bit of verve missing that would come from a band striking sparks off each other.
Mark's songs cover a wide range of subject matter; there's some very contemplative songs that have a quiet, poetic beauty about them. "Last Things" deals with the emotions involved as you tidy away the things left behind by someone recently departed; "Dust" contemplates the old sense of wonder a small-town kid would have on his weekly visit to the picture house, whilst "Gold" is a little more elusive but seems to deal with that bittersweet joy felt in experiencing transient beauty. The livelier songs are just as varied and if you were going to get up and dance to them, like as not it'd be old-style foot stomping barn dancing that would come naturally. His lyrics are maybe lighter on their feet than his music - he avoids the simple tune in favour of seeking out more depth. "Bivouac Of The Dead" is his setting of some old words and is about as straightforward a tune as he allows himself but even this has some brief stops in it and some space for some ghostly atmospherics.
I don't suppose there's too much chance of it happening in the near future on this side of the Atlantic but it would be fascinating to hear these songs performed live with a full band; there's so much going on I can imagine it being a richly satisfying experience and in the song "Down In The Swamp" he's got a natural showstopper, a Little Feat style cheerfully irreverent stomp that could be stretched out long into the night with everyone up and dancing.
Mark Lucas on FSR http://flyinshoes.ning.com/profile/MarkThorntonLucas
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