Choirboy goes Country
New Zealand country folk rising star, Marlon Williams, is finally bringing his self titled solo effort to the northern hemisphere. After making serious waves back home the award winning musician is set to release Marlon Williams on February 19th through American record label Dead Oceans.
Williams has spent his whole life surrounded by a myriad of different musical influences. His father spent time playing in an industrial punk band, but would also bring home music from the likes of The Beatles, Elvis, and perhaps most importantly, Gram Parsons. Through his mother he was also introduced to Smokey Robinson, and spent a lot of time singing Maori music. In addition to the traditional Maori singing, Williams was also a member of the choir of both his school and Christchurch’s cathedral ensemble. When he was older he initially went to the highly regarded University of Canterbury, but the rigid structure he encountered there just wasn’t a good fit. Instead, him and a group of other former choirboys founded Williams’ first band, The Unfaithful Ways. While he was with The Unfaithful Ways, Williams spent time touring with the likes of Band of Horses. After his winding track down just about every musical influence possible Williams has naturally decided to put out a country folk album.
Of his new record, Marlon Williams has said that “each song is a character.” They are quite a diverse cast of characters at that. The album kicks off with boot stomping number “Hello Miss Lonesome.” Williams stellar voice soars high over a hoedown rhythm sure to make the listener move in their seat. In the backing vocals and impressive notes that Williams is able to hold for an impressive amount of time the listener is reminded of his extensive choral background. It makes for a great pairing with the back porch style instrumentation found throughout the track. The album also includes more somber tracks like his take on Teddy Randazzo’s ballad “I’m Lost Without You.” His voice is able to switch gears and easily take on the 60s ballad style of singing without a hitch. Here he is tastefully backed by haunting strings, sparse drumming and again, choral backing vocals. This track stands as a great show of versatility with Williams truly delivering the heartache inherent in those lyrics. The record also hold lighter guitar-based pop in “After All” and the noir style “Dark Child.”
Williams is able to take this diverse collection of songs, and turn them into a cohesive record that listens like an impressive musical resume covering all manner of skills. This is an exceptional first effort from a true musical talent who will no doubt be able to make big waves far further than his native New Zealand. Watch for upcoming dates on his European and North American tour.