Album Reviews

Paul Mark & The Van Dorens


Artist:     Paul Mark & The Van Dorens

Album:     Stowaways

Label:     Radiation Records

Release Date:     10/02/2016


Paul Mark’s latest release, Stowaways was recorded in 2015. It’s the tenth studio release by the multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/producer. Mark’s discography spans several decades, embracing the Americana/Roots spectrum with an original take on blues, rock, soul, country, surf, cabaret and other old-timey sounds. Paul is mostly a one-man-band, playing piano, guitar, acoustic bass, organ, drums, harmonica, xylophone and percussion on all tracks, with only a few added strings thrown in for good measure – played by other musicians, of course.

Paul Mark’s jazzy piano work is featured prominently throughout Stowaways, and is particularly wonderful in “Bridge to Nowhere.” The beautiful and sad “Once Upon a Weekend” features the lovely voice of Tess Primack in a duet with Mark. Sometimes the songs feel like they should be in a musical, despite this not really being a concept album. The last track on the album, “Animal Cruelty” is a poignant reminder of the heartache of man’s best friend. With lyrics like, “And their farewell eyes say “Don’t you cry, it happened to me once too… O’er the hill you’ll find another” Why must animals be so cruel?”

In a beautifully packaged album, Mark plays piano with world weary lyrics– lyrics that express his melancholy cynicism. Stowaways has a late night bar feel, a dirty club that you find while walking in the rain at 2 am in a nameless city, you feel the grit and pollution in his songs and you know in your heart he speaks the truth. Paul Mark is telling you a story, and although this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it works its way into you, and you’ll find yourself listening to it again and again.

-Laura Sedor

Got something to say?