Sunday, February 22, 2009
Review: Marshall Lawrence "The Morning After"
Marshall Lawrence is a fine acoustic guitarist and blues singer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. "The Morning After" is his second release, following the 2003 cd "Where's The Party?" Here he continues that successful formula: fiery slices of delta-flavored acoustic slide guitar with just enough backing to fill out the sound. Lawrence is backed by Russell Jackson on bass and the combined harmonica talents of John Wilds and Sherman "Tank" Doucette. These are the last tracks John Wilds recorded--he died during these sessions. Wilds' mastery of the harp is evident here, but Doucette does a fine job of filling his shoes.
Lawrence writes nine of the 13 tracks here, and on the originals he gets the tone exactly right--they fit among a fine set of covers, including Blind Willie McTell's "Blue Sky Is Fallin'," Tommy Johnson's "Bye Bye Blues," Charlie Patton's "Moon Goin' Down," and Taj Mahal's "Light Rain Blues." The Tommy Johnson track is easily the highlight of the disc, with an infectious joy--like his take of Big Bill Broonzy's "Key To The Highway" on "Where's The Party?" Lawrence uses his guitar and absolutely reinterprets the classic number in a new way. It's still delta-style country blues, but new. In fact, I think Lawrence is following in the footsteps of some very important artists like Bernie Pearl and Corey Harris and Taj Mahal in the way that he is at once historical musicologist and contemporary interpreter.
This is a fine disc and shows the growth of an emerging artist. "Where's The Party?" was a good debut, but this one is even better. I look forward to Lawrence's next steps. You can buy this cd at http://www.doctorblues.com