'My Friend Marx', the debut album from Marc O'Reilly fuses great lyrics, hushed vocals and extra-ordinary guitar playing to become one of the best albums released in 2011.
I was notified of Marc's album when it was released last Summer, checked it out on Soundcloud and didn't think much on first listen. I then listened to the track 'Family Reunion' as it was a 'Play Irish' and I loved the lyrics of that tune. I got into the album more and more and when I watched the live videos of Marc's performances at The Ruby Sessions it all came together and made sense to me.
Firstly one of the best things about Marc's music is his lyrics. It's been ages since I read along with the liner notes while listening to the songs but I've done that lots with this album. For example in the heartbreaking song 'Twenty Minutes for Two Years' he sings:
"And I was just another game to play, some way to pass the time
And your Cinderella dream, was just a dream of mine"
In fact that broken relationship is the theme of a number of songs on the album. The album finishes on that ray of hope where Marc sings on F.O.O. that
"I'm going to feel somebody in my head again"
There's no indication as to what the letters F.O.O. stands for!
The vocals can easily be compared to Ray Lamontagne or James Vincent McMorrow; they are that clear. The majority of the instrumentation on the album is from Marc's amazing guitar style and talent. I love that there was no over-indulgence by adding in full band sound when it wasn't needed. For instance the Jose Gonzalez sounding 'Family Reunion' sounds wonderful with guitar accompanied by trumpet.
My Friend Marx is a really difficult album to describe. The three artists I've mentioned above don't make music as quite like this. There's a blues influence on some tracks with the main sound being Americana rootsy folk. It's a very brave album to make from an artist who has an amazing talent as a guitarist. There really isn't a bad song on the album. Even the anti-war song 'Lord of War' doesn't make me cringe! For me the album hits the high point around tracks 6,7,8 with Narrow Street, Tell Old Joe and Family Reunion.
Marc O'Reilly - My Friend Marx [12 out of 12]
The Purple Sessions, Boyles of Slane Thursday 23rd Feb 9PM [& The Making and Polly Barrrett]
The Troubadour, Earls Court, London Wednesday 29/02/12
Canadian Music Week, Toronto 21-25/03/12