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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Leigh Marble

Where the Knives Meet between the Rows

Review by Larry Toering

Leigh Marble comes down from a long painful experience on his third release, after being thrown some of life's difficult curve balls. From beginning to end he sheds his pain piece by piece and you feel every second of it as it's expressed. The pain in particular comes on more strong as it goes, until some humor shows its healing power in the process and everything seems like it has a happy ending underneath it all. But for a good portion you feel this is never going to come out bright, as he saps and squeezes every emotion he can out of it, and winds up with a very well conveyed point. This is a very personal album in contrast to the more pop laden Red Tornado, and even though it has moments of laughter, you really feel every single note of it and he proves that the healing power of music can’t be denied. There is a lot of great talent lingering up in the northwest, and Marble is another one of its sleepers that I don't see not making global headway real soon.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Walk
This sets up the whole vibe with a moody track that compels within the first note. The tune begins with a lower register and keeps building throughout with a very pleasing lure. Once the point is made you get the feeling that this is going to be a satisfying listening experience. The brooding feel is contagious within this thing of beauty. It’s a fantastic opener!
Jackrabbit
The mood gathers some lyrical sass as things continue on the same level, but with some amazing lyrics to completely enhance the groove. I love every word of this, and the music starts to take on some bold abstract factors, with a lot of experimentation. While it takes more risks, that doesn't wreck the arrangement by any means. There is excellent use of both guitar and keyboards, but the vocals do most of the point making. This is killer!
Goodnight
This one gets a little slower handed without losing one bit of the overall intensity, even though it's more of a ballad than the previous two numbers. As the track wears on, soundscapes begin to take the shape of the arrangement into another completely dreary realm. The vocals are melancholy and very soothing to the ear as Marble gets his point across.
Evil

Keeping the pace slow, this is even more brooding, yet a different type of track altogether. This is one of the most hypnotic vibes on offer, just a spellbinding track that pulsates with compelling emotion and mood. As things build up, it gets more instrumentally aggressive toward the end, but the vocals find their way back to the chorus. It's soothing the way he individually matches his voice and singular notes on the guitar. That is one of this track’s best effects.

Nail
This track is more of the same as the previous two, but it keeps a much more straightforward approach, as Marble continues on the dark path he's taking at this point. This has a very industrial appeal, likely because of the brooding soundscapes that drive it. It reminds me of being chased by a shadow that never catches up. “Test the aerodynamics of hope,” is one example of the lyrical pain Marble conveys, which is generally all over the disc. This is quite depressing, but appropriately placed among many tracks that are as uplifting and spiritually positive as well. By now the listener is completely captivated by the drama within.
Holden
Humor takes over strongly for what is the album’s token comedic point. If one gets where Marble is coming from at this juncture, this comes as a breath of fresh air, because the seriousness was coming on so strong before now. I love this track and can't see many not also getting off on its pure sense of humor, especially if you know where it's all coming from. One of the high points on offer here, this evens out the entire mood as it goes. It gets into a build up toward the end that you don't really see coming, which carries it out nicely with several interesting soundscapes.
Pony
This isn't as humorous, but it continues in a much more uplifting groove, and honestly turns out to be the peaking point of the disc. I find it equally or even slightly more pleasing than the previous track. The whole thing shapes up to a be killer in the end. More fantastic songwriting and performing delivery are both on display. This is one of the best on offer to my ears.
Inebriate Waltz
Humor tends to stay the course, and it helps to know that Marble can overcome his demons this way. It's an unexpected surprise after the first four tracks showed a much more serious approach. All of these songs are from personal experiences which plagued Marble for some time before the recording. This is somewhere like a mix between the two moods being reflected throughout. It makes an effort to admit some of life is funny, and some of it is simply not. It demonstrates the sort of humorous folk charm that he has, regardless of his predicaments. There is some history concerning this tune, as it was written about the 19th century Oregon poet Sam Simpson, a  “one hit wonder” author of the famed northwest poem “Beautiful Willamette.” Simpson contemplated suicide at least once and ultimately drank himself to death by falling and cracking his head on the sidewalk outside his favorite bar, Portland's long gone St George Hotel.
Greener Pastures
This helps convey the entire subject matter of the whole set, as the title gets repeated and Marble gets his point across as far possible. There is a really great tune underneath this, with some excellent piano and more use of soothing soundscapes. This is right up there with the best to choose from out of these great tunes, and it pushes the eclectic boundaries without losing the obviously important point of the lyrics summing up the title of the album. That title is repeated here a time or three with surrounding circumstances coming from it.
Cars
The closing thoughts are backed by some more cool sounds that can't be exactly made out. Those elements serve as a perfect atmosphere for this darker sounding but not so lyrically moody track. It lightly adds the right texture to everything, especially with the fade away sounding like someone stepping out into the street and hearing the usual industrial noises and a car or two in the distance. Altogether it's the perfect way to take the recording out and shows how well it's all arranged.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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