The Marcus King Band’s upward trajectory this past two years has seen two albums and a lot of love generated among the blues, jazz soul and rock scene.
Barely into his 20s, the remarkably talented Marcus. King’s voice carries more soul than a lot of blues singers with ten or fifteen years of road life and smoke on them. At only 21 years of age, band leader King’s musical ability is evident in every song the group releases. His guitar playing is remarkable, switching genres effortlessly from slow to ferocious to funky psychedelic and back again. The Marcus King Band features Jack Ryan on drums and percussion, Stephen Campbell on bass, Dean Mitchell on saxophone, and Justin Johnson on trumpet, trombone and backing vocals. Joining the band on the new album are a number of collaborators, including the legendary Derek Trucks (who plays guitar on “Self-Hatred”).
Combining elements of southern rock, traditional blues, improvisational jazz and soulful guitar riffs, all accompanied horns and powerful percussion, the 21-year-old guitar hero and his band of musical brothers prove that there is much room for innovation in blues music.
The first track, “Ain’t Nothing Wrong with That” uses the horn section to the full to create a soul-R&B jam. On the third track, the illustrious Derek Trucks takes a guest turn in the jazzy, and slightly heavy “Self- Hatred,” which is then followed by one of the most famous tracks in the whole collection. “Jealous Man” can be categorized as sublime blues-based soul. The mellow riff from the horns combined with an organ supports King’s guitar to underline the lament of a man admitting he can’t cope with his love. The noodling jam on the track “The Man You Didn’t Know” lasts only 4 minutes on the album but it is easy to imagine it stretching out at a laid-back outdoor concert.
To my mind, this album is a big melting pot of different kinds of music. It’s the sound of everyone taking their own influences and collectively coming together as a group. The whole band seems to be really hungry to play and so passionate about genre-crossing music. At the same time they make people feel the same thing they feel — meaning you finish the album with some sense of release. The only criticism I have would be the sense of continuity among the tracks on the album, which does not resemble the band’s live concerts. It seems that the producer may not have been observant enough to understand the group’s combination of different genres as their best feature and the reason for their unique sound.
Overall, the album is a huge contribution to the music world and a masterclass for all guitar players out there.