Artist: Chris Marshall
Produced by: In Music We Trust
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Born in Oregon, the second son of a minister, Chris Marshall’s love for music was always at the forefront of his life. He performed with local church bands and wrote songs, influenced by artists from a bygone day like Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson. Eventually, he recorded a self-titled EP in 2006 and another EP in 2009 called Starting Out. I recently had the opportunity to check out his latest recording, a full-length album called August Light, due for release in mid-April, 2011.
To create August Light, Chris Marshall first needed to do some soul searching to come up with the lyrics for the songs that would appear on the album. Then he had to assemble a band to perform those songs. He decided on some of Portland’s top musicians - bassist Allen Hunter, former Decemberists’ drummer Ezra Holbrook and pedal steel player Paul Brainard. But it took the death of a good friend to push Chris forward, lending sincerity to his vocals and giving him strength to completing the lifelong dream of recording this album.
I was drawn in by the very first track of August Light, Every Time the Wind Blows. The sound is pure country, a professional sound with heartfelt vocals that remind us to celebrate life in all of its forms. This is followed by one of my favorite tracks on the album, Look Out Your Window, in which Chris admonishes us to stop being so close-minded and pay attention to the world around us: “…Look out your window and you may find that the exercise of opening your eyes will lead to the opening of your mind…”.
Each song on the album is reminiscent of an older age of country and soul, yet the music, vocals and lyrics are fresh and new. There is an openness in the storytelling of each track that leads us to believe that each song contains a piece of Chris Marshall, a moment in his life captured for all time through lyrics. I loved Killing Time, a song in which Chris perfectly captures that moment after a breakup when it feels like the world has stopped and the misery that is your life is carrying on in slow motion.
Of course, the entire album is not retrospection, self-discovery and sadness. There is also some romance to be found here. My favorite of these tracks is I Found You, a beautiful love song that clearly defines just what one finds when they come across their soul mate. The album ends with a Christian country gospel track entitled A Hallelujah Song.
After listening to August Light for the first time, I was floored with how professional this album sounded, as if Chris Marshall had been touring the country western circuit for years and had paused briefly to record some of his greatest hits. I enjoyed the album so much, I just had to listen to it again, singing along with my favorite tracks. Then again - I simply couldn’t get enough of August Light. This album is everything I believe a country music album is supposed to be - good music, a soulful sound with a hint of twang in the vocals, lyrics that tell a story and impart a message to the listener. This album has it all. Any country western fan would be proud to add August Light by Chris Marshall to his/her music collection!