There’s a raft of bands rotating around the daddy of this genre, Frank Turner: we most recently reviewed Beans On Toast, but there’s any number of singer-songwriters playing folk-based tunes with sincere and/or entertaining intelligent lyrics, and with links to Turner. Marwood is another.
After the first couple of plays, we’d have said his earthy sound was probably better live but we’re getting to like his honest, everyman delivery and slightly fragile voice.
He’s got an X Factor backstory, too. (As in “Here’s Sue: her parents died in a bizarre washing machine incident, her gran’s on death row for a crime she didn’t commit and her dog’s got distemper, so winning through to the next round would put a smile on her tear-stained little face”). Marwood was stricken with a condition that left him lying on his back, with an “inability to stand up, play guitar and sing” as he wrote on his blog at the time.
Clearly, he’s back on his feet and his new album is infused with an appreciation of life only serious illness can bring (as with Rob Richings, our favourite album of last year).
Opener Punched In The Mouth Pt1 reflects on the fact that life can, well, administer a backhanded slap. The stompy and cheery The Church of No Commandments — a song worthy of Mr Turner — seems to be about the lack of a need for organised religion: “Sing through every chorus as if we can stave off death/But it’s holy holy hopeless,” he yells tunefully.
Nights is about lying about at night worrying, in the same vein as Flaming Lips’ Do You Realize — “….you’re going to die?” being the question in both songs, but like the Lips, Marwood’s advice is to fill your glass and enjoy life (“You’ve never got to let this get you down”).
It’s lively and full of life, and full of humour; we assume his I’m Wide Awake It’s Boring references Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, while The Devil Makes Work for Jazz Hands is a contender for song title of the year.
In his blog he notes: “It’s the fear of many humans that they’ll be forgotten after they’re dead; it’s the egotistical fear of many artists that they’ll be forgotten while they’re still alive”.
On the strength of this, there’s not much chance of that.