Marlon Williams, the 24-year-old country/bluegrass singer from Lyttleton, New Zealand has signed to Universal/Dead Oceans for the worldwide release of his self-titled debut album, following a domestic debut last spring in New Zealand where it reached number four in the charts and subsequently received five New Zealand Music Award nominations.
The national acclaim he’s had is hardly surprising: it only takes a split-second to be won over by the power of his unusually well-crafted country voice. He recalls the likes of Elvis, and Willie Nelson, and Neil Young without copying any of them. The album’s delights don't rested solely on the wonders of the vocals, though.
Opener ‘Hello Miss Lonesome’ shows how much of potent force the four-piece band are when they’re in full swing. It’s a full throttle introduction with a rhythm that recalls a lot of Johnny Cash’s most amphetamine induced live performances. ‘Afterall’ continues to keep up the pace and is the track that nods to Neil Young the most. Elsewhere, ‘Dark Child’ has a beautifully twangy guitar sound that matches Williams’ subdued baritone; the stripped back song is easily the most arresting cut on the album as he throws so much of himself behind his lyrics of sorrow and regret.