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MARCUS MALONE —A BETTER MAN (Redline Music)

 

www.marcusmalone.com

 

Oh, man this guy creates some of the keenest rhythmic grooves of his genre, and with powerful full on vocals (but in a good way) he produces a stirring sound. He also writes wonderful hooky songs, and on partnered by incessant lead guitar and an amazing rhythm section (Christopher Nugent, drums: Winston Blissett, bass) plus Alan Glen on harmonica his sound is ever forceful, feisty and totally addictive.  

 

Apart from his band, Malone also calls on Moz Gamble Hammond (organ, keyboards), Sean Nolan (rhythm, lead guitar solos) and Stuart Dixon (lead guitar solos) to make major contributions. Steeped in urban big city blues coupled with the occasional nod to rock and r&b boundaries merge, and often as not explode in spectacular fashion.

 

When it comes to highlights Malone throws up more than a few. From the off all guns are blazing as he speaks of “The House of Blues”, and though solid, the title-track “Better Man” can’t live with the likes of “Too Long Gone” and of a little less full-blown approach the keyboards peppered “Just Another Heartache” (that also contains some wonderful vocals from Malone, and burning solo from Nolan) and smoky blues gem “Feelin’ Bad Blues”. Loaded in harmonica, guitar and rhythm featuring terrific work on keyboards Malone is in fine fettle as he produces one of his best vocal tracks.

 

“Philomene” has a familiar feel to it with its strong infectious beat and excellent guitar from Nolan, and with the likes of “Complications” backing it up Malone has it nailed. “The Only One” sees him veer more towards pop and it too works well, steeped in tight harmonies and an early 1970s feel he may well have a radio hot on his hands.

 

Stout and of a r&b groove “Stand Up (Love Of Life)” likewise has a commercial feel to it, and with the likes of moody ballad “In Your Arms” and the smouldering “Can’t Go Back” (I love his vocals here) as he digs a little deeper the high standard holds. Enough to blow the listener away I hasten add. “Shine Your Light” in comparison sees him ease into a more commercial sound, interesting it is too. A sound some will like, and others feel less attracted to it. 

Originally from Detroit, Michigan Malone has resided for about twenty years in the UK. During which time recorded six albums, and if they are all as good as A Better Man his fans can have no complaints. 

 

                                                                 Maurice Hope 

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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