Album Reviews

The Marcus King Band

The Marcus King Band

Artist:     The Marcus King Band

Album:     The Marcus King Band

Label:     Fantasy

Release Date:     10/07/2016

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Calling Marcus King an amalgam of all that’s great about Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes—not just their guitars, but overall artistry—is knee-jerk. Oodles of individuality colors the music on The Marcus King Band, but inspiration from the two Allman Brothers guitarists is palpable at several turns. Karma then, besides King’s ridiculous talent, must have steered Haynes to King. They played together often over the last year, obviously giving Haynes the needed perspective to produce this album so perfectly.

Punchy and fully enveloping, every one of the songs beautifully radiates talent and diversity. Old school soul, southern rock, jazz-fusion, and Americana entwine imaginatively, and very, very likably. Just their second album, this huge leap should be a world-wide breakthrough. First and foremost, there are the songs. King wrote every one, and the range of emotion on display staggers the senses. Plus, somehow in the two years since their debut, King became Jackie Wilson reincarnated. The sandpaper soul in his pipes astonishes. But as great as he sings, King will forever and rightfully be revered for his guitar playing. Each song contains a run—or runs—of a wizard’s electrifying tone. And not coincidentally, he stands tall here trading barbs with Trucks in the funhouse-distorted, weirdly-professed, and completely riveting “Self-Hatred.” “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That” kicks the album off on a driving beat and happy horn charts that call to mind classic Chicago Transit Authority. Yes! “Devil’s Land” then brutalizes by comparison, King’s guitar work towards the outset pulling the tough melody to its near-breaking point. “Jealous Man” hones sophisticated rock and R&B in a way Tedeschi Trucks Band might, and “The Man You Didn’t Know” rambles and snakes like the Derek Trucks Band used to. With “Rita is Gone,” though, King takes a thought about a tragic character in the Dexter TV series, and turns it into sublime, pleading soul. And that right there is the extra kind of thing that sets him—and the band—apart. The adventurousness on this album is as long as the flair. King’s only 20. Watch them rise.

—Tom Clarke

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