The self-titled, debut long-player from Marlon Williams backs up everything that was suggested earlier across so many live shows and the duo albums with Delaney Davidson and his time at the helm of a very great band called The Unfaithful Ways. And if the opener, Hello Miss Lonesome, blows in like a bit of blustery Lyttelton country (the kind they’re making in a factory) it’s when we hear the change of pace that we get the full magic. Oh, and also Marlon’s better at that Lyttelton country thing than anyone else doing the do.
But it’s when After All shuffles in feeling so much like a Travelling Wilburys tune and you check the production credits for Jeff Lynne that you know there’s more to this guy, he’s no one trick pony. And no, no Jeff Lynne either – not yet, just Ben Edwards, an architect of The Lyttelton Sound – here for better and (sometimes) elsewhere for worse.
Dark Child and the traditional When I Was A Young Girl show the beauty and power of Williams’ voice as stark instrument. I’m Lost Without You has those same where-country-meets-soul stabs of guitar and that shimmering, haunted feel. I’m Lost Without You gets the feel just right – we’re listening to Hank and Patsy and so many of those things that Marlon so clearly grew up with. We’re hearing his influences as (correctly) filtered. And it’s a joy. A perfect joy of an album.
At just 35 minutes and nine tracks it’s just the right stuff – every song (that) works, no filler. Lonely Side of Her with its gentle, acoustic kiss, the strings deftly bouncing in and around the voice, Silent Passage is the campfire-strumalong, Strange Things a bit of that ghost-country thing and Everyone’s Got Something To Say – a wonderful closer. Just naming the songs does very little though. Sure, here I am telling you it’s all wonderful and all good and no mistakes, but you really have to hear this, live with it, the album’s deceptive – at first seeming, perhaps, too short (“is that it?”) but the achievement here is quite remarkable. It’s as close to timeless as you might ever get these days, but more than that it’s but a hint of what is to come. And I’m sure of that. This guy’s a world-beater.