Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love (2018 LP)

Marlon Williams’ voice is a beautiful instrument capable of expressing vulnerability, lust, defiance and melancholy all within a breath. Throughout these 11 songs, he sings in a confidential tone, his tenor far forward in the mix, as befitting the pop crooners of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s that this record so naturally references. ‘Come To Me’, the sparse opener features close harmonies, twangy tremolo guitar and tasteful strings, recalling the brothers Walker and Everly.

Though heartbreak is the decided theme here, Williams approaches the subject with just enough sweetness that the melodies will get under your skin. The arrangements are at times stark, at times dramatic, but always serve the emotion of the performance. ‘Can I Call You’ is one of many highlights, as Williams’ own backing vocals inhabit different character voices over a measured beat, plonking piano and a kind of dark atmosphere that brings to mind classic Bad Seeds. “Try to spend some time alone,” advises a chorus of harmonies, “What are you drinking, who’s there with you?” pleads his own tortured internal monologue.

‘Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore’, was the first track to be released from the record and is its centrepiece. The song features Aldous Harding, Williams’ ex-partner and presumably the subject of most of these songs, wherein the pair sing line for line about the breakdown of communication within a relationship. It could almost have been too personal a move, except that when the band kick in at the 1:20 mark, it becomes obvious that the haunting and melancholic five-minute opus is also the album’s catchiest and most accessible.

Make Way For Love has all the makings of a modern classic, although as the record sounds like it was transplanted directly from 1962, ‘timeless’ might be a better descriptor.

Originally published in Beat Magazine.

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