Record Of The Week # 31
November 6, 2017
Kendell Marvel – Lowdown & Lonesome
Kendell Marvel emerges from the shadows with the release of his first album, Lowdown & Lonesome. For a couple of decades he’s been writing hit records for the cream of Country music. Marvel says “I decided to make that record (Lowdown & Lonesome) once credible music started coming out again”. With Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton being promoted by the mainstream then you can see why.
Marvel has writing credits for Gary Allan, Blake Shelton, Lee Ann Womack, Travis Tritt and George Strait (as well as Stapleton). However, the good news is that he’s kept back some gems for his own album.
The selection is pure early millennium Country, which includes sentimental classic tearjerkers and some full-bloodied rockers adorned with pedal steel and fiddle.
“Lowdown & Lonesome” kicks things off with a raw electric guitar riff that quickly finds a groove with Marvel sharing his lover’s lament. There is a strong infusion of Southern Rock and Blues. “Gypsy Woman” takes things down and a Hammond organ, sounding absolutely magnificent, underpins this slow rolling melody. On this and several other songs he sounds somewhat like Chris Stapleton but he is very much his own man. “Watch Your Heart” continues to show his gift for a slow song. Eventually this ramps up into an Allman Brothers style rock out with snatches of twin guitars and harmonica.
“Closer To Hell” betrays his day job for others. A classic Country song about being driven to drinking whilst guitars pick, twang or slide. This is always at a gentle lick with signature sounds bordering on comedy – despite this journey to purgatory.
Honky tonk piano on “Untangle My Mind” embellishes a standard upbeat song. Which was co written with Stapleton. “Hurtin’ Gets Hard” just about clambers over the other tracks to be my stand out. For a man who never chose to sing his own songs he has a rich and deep baritone that is often commanding yet yearning.
Lastly “That Seat’s Saved”: the title tells you alone that this is a barroom tale about a girl ‘that is all that and more’ who he’s hoping arrives to take her place beside him. The voice with pedal steel when combined is exquisite.
This is an exceptional record and for those of you who’ve become fans of Chris Stapleton and also regularly check the Internet for the next Jamey Johnson album then you’ll be thrilled to own this. Thank heavens he eventually concluded it was time to say his piece.
This is a complete tonic for jaded Country music ears. And who knows with his friends in high places and the Country pop sensibilities then this may get some decent radio exposure. Wonderful.
(I have now recruited my Favourite Eldest Daughter to proof read some of these reviews. It’s amazing all the gobbledegook she has cut out! She’s merciless but I’m learning! Also I wrote this review for the Americana Music Show website and the host in North Carolina published the review within an hour of receiving it. Then the artist in Tennessee replied to this Tweet shortly afterwards. Amazing what kind of connections there are around the world and how it starts with a bloke sat at a computer in York on a cold and frosty evening typing away).