Tuesday, March 29, 2016

USA: Mark Warren-Portraits (2016)

Mark Warren | Portraits
You hear a lot of people say, “there’s no good music nowadays,” especially when reminded of music icons like Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and Sam Cooke. Mark Warren attempts to crush that myth with a mix of jazz, R&B, soul, and singer-songwriter pizzazz that points to how far music has come through the ages. With artists like Michael Bublé and Harry Connick Jr. continuing a tradition of jazz, to Ed Sheeran and Dave Barnes, who keep the soulful singer-songwriter vibe alive for a new generation, today's generation has so much music to be inspired by.

Meant to be a tribute to so many songs Mark sings on a regular basis as a wedding singer, “I Just Can’t Stop” is a snazzy big band original with obvious influence of Count Basie and his band.

“Here I Stand” was written for his best friend’s wedding. This song pays homage to classic ballads like Unchained Melody.

“Sugar Reacher” is a funky goofy attempt at coining a phrase. His meaning is to immortalize those special people that always selflessly give of themselves. (In this case passing out condiments at the table while everyone else is chowing down…)

“Why Don’t You” shows a deep influence of R&B with cascading falsetto harmonies and a testament to the hardship of chronic disease. Mark’s wife, while suffering from chronic Lyme Disease for over 10 years, uttered those heart-wrenching words, “why don’t you go?” not out of spite but out of a selfless love for his potential. His answer says it all, “I made a vow to be with you even when it’s scary.”

“Wherever” was written for a family member going through the deepest darkest places of depression. When advice is meaningless, “you are not alone” is the anthem of kindness.

“So Close” is a gospel-music driven ode to the hardships of life. No matter how much we try, we WILL fail and continue to fail throughout life, but we must not give up.

“Come to Me” was written at three different times during Mark’s engagement to his wife, Bailey. With a George Benson vibe, he wrote the first verse and chorus when, right after they became engaged, Bailey took the internship of a lifetime in Hawaii. The second verse and chorus were written after Mark was able to take a weekend trip to see her. The last verse and chorus were written the day Bailey returned. Mark first performed this song live on the piano at their rehearsal dinner accompanied by his father, Rick, on guitar, and his brother, Matt, on bass.

“Everything” came out of Mark and Bailey’s time in Hawaii. Hawaiian reggae, with its close harmonies and easy island groove, inspired Mark to write a new song to his beach playlist.

“Katie Rose” draws a funny line between lullaby, two-stepping, and funk. Written for one of Mark’s nieces, this song leaves us a with a sense of his legacy of joy. Albeit also a legacy of musical genre ADHD.

Overall, Mark Warren's first album "Portraits" is a deeply personal adventure into his musical influences.