The mid-twentysomething native South Carolina guitar phenom Marcus King and his band took a giant artistic leap on his 2018 album Carolina Confessions. It garnered King plenty of kudos, not to mention plenty of high profile gigs. So, what does he do for an encore? He hooks up with Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys to make a solo album. Produced by Auerbach, El Dorado is King’s new solo project and whereas the guitar theatrics are a given, it is the soulful side that truly resonates on this album. It is in the Ear Bliss spotlight this week along with the latest release from acclaimed singer/songwriter John Moreland called LP5. One could say Moreland steps out of his comfort zone for LP5 as it marks the first album on which he’s used an outside producer. The results are no less affecting than his previous longplayers. Let’s take a look.
For his solo debut called El Dorado, the Southern-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Marcus King taps the talents of producer Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys for an album which from its hues of blues, rock and country is squarely rooted on the soulful side of the tracks. Now all of 23 years old, King’s has been a career on the rise and the timing couldn’t be more perfect to dip his toes into the solo side of things. A South Carolina native who now calls Nashville home, it was Auerbach who hooked King up with various players and writers not long after making Music City his new home. Along the songwriter Pat McLaughlin, King and Auerbach collaborated on the song “How Long” which was one of the prime cuts on The Marcus King Band’s 2018 album Carolina Confessions. Working together set the wheels in motion for more collaborating at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio all leading to this new solo album, El Dorado, which they began work on in early 2019. All 12 songs are co-written by King and Auerbach with assists from seasoned songwriting vets like Paul Overstreet, Ronnie Bowman, and the aforementioned McLaughlin. Add to that the combination of King’s soulful vocals and excellent guitar work with accompaniment from the studio vets comprising Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound “house band” and the sum total is a finely tuned, and highly recommended product in El Dorado. Visit www.marcuskingband.com.
Old Omens Records
It was a warm June night in 2015 in a living room in South Kingstown where I first encountered a live performance from the Oklahoma-based singer/songwriter John Moreland. Moreland was on the road playing small rooms, including living rooms, promoting his new album at the time called High on Tulsa Heat. With only his acoustic guitar and gruff voice, Moreland over the course of 90 minutes delivered one devastatingly jaw dropping song after another leaving those in the house stunned. As far songs of such poetry and potency, the closest I could think were those of the late Townes Van Zandt. In other words, John Moreland is that good. High on Tulsa Heat would catapult Moreland to bigger rooms and stages and put his career in a higher gear. His follow-up record, Big Bad Luv in 2017 released on the British label 4AD Records, while not the jolt of its predecessor was a more highly produced affair that still left its mark. Now three years later, Moreland has moved on from 4AD and back to his own homespun Old Omens Record label with a new batch of finely crafted songs. LP5 is that record and it is first and foremost significant for the fact it is the first time Moreland has worked with an outside producer. That person is Matt Pence who in addition to being a musician himself has produced artists including Jason Isbell and The Breeders. Pence’s talents pay off time and again over the 11 tracks comprising LP5 introducing new electronic touches to Moreland’s music to create moods in tune with his powerful and poetic ways with the written word. Compared to the rusticity of Moreland’s earlier efforts, these new dimensions in sound expand the aperture of Moreland’s songs and songwriting even further.
John Moreland appears at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA on March 29. The Sinclair is located at 52 Church Street.
The organization Rockabilly Rhode Island (check out their Facebook group) along with Swelltunes Records of Boston join forces to present a what is guaranteed to be a hot evening of music at Nick-a-Nee’s in Providence (79 South Street) on Friday night to kick off the weekend. Scheduled to perform are fast-rising Rochester-based rock & rollers The Televisionaries along with the debut of a new Ocean State-based rockabilly outfit calling themselves The Hi-Fi Lowdowns. Music starts at 9 pm and best of all, admission is free!
A full plate of music is in store at Pump House Music Works in Peace Dale (1764 Kingstown Road). On Friday night, Saddle Up the Chicken gets down and rootsy starting at 7:30 pm. The following evening finds David Furlong & the Honk at the pondside listening room, also starting at 7:30 pm.
Chan’s Restaurant in Woonsocket (267 Main Street) presents Doors tribute act Through the Doors on Friday evening beginning at 8 pm. The following evening finds Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish in the house of eggrolls and blues for your listening and dancing pleasure, also starting at 8 pm.
The Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland (549 Broad Street) is in action only on Sunday night this weekend when it presents the Maine-based Irish music ensemble The Jeremiahs at 7 pm.
Mike Boulay & Hope Valley Volunteers do their monthly pickin’ and grinnin’ thing for your eatin’ and drinkin’ enjoyment at the Wood River Inn in Richmond (1193 Main Street) on Sunday evening starting at 6 pm.
A couple of stellar singer/songwriters from the contemporary folk world visit the Greenwich Odeum in East Greenwich (59 Main Street) on Sunday evening when it presents Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell in concert at 7 pm.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3.)