The new album from Marlon Williams, Make Way For Love, dropped today on Dead Oceans. It is that rare record that oozes both warmth and invention while offering copious throwback charms.
If opener "Come To Me" echoes other acts from Williams' home of New Zealand with hints of the orchestral majesty of late-period Chills stuff percolating through the melody, then "What's Chasing You" nods more in the direction of Americans Chris Isaak and Roy Orbison. Similarly, "I Know a Jeweller" layers in a rough rockabilly twang to the cut, while the title track and "The Fire of Love" positively haunt by stripping things back even further, Suicide songs updated for a new century. On the mournful numbers here, like "Love is a Terrible Thing" and a few others, Williams certainly commands a listener's attention, his voice cooing and careening like Jimmy Scott, but on the more upbeat selections something more interesting is happening as Williams attempts to meld his talents with more elegant arrangements.
Marlon Williams is a prodigious vocalist and if a listener prefers the ballads, Williams certainly delivers a rare and beautiful experience for said listener. However, I found it more interesting when Marlon tried to change things up and add a bit of a more jaunty outlook to the songs here. Still, Williams manages to make both approaches work and Make Way For Love is a remarkably compelling record to encounter in 2018.
Make Way For Love is out today via Dead Oceans.
[Photo: Steve Gullick]