Robert Marr has been making music since before he could write his name on paper, having been lured into the creative outlet since he was four years old. Nearly six decades later, Marr is still as passionate about the music and influences that drew him in to begin with. Starting to write his own songs at an early age, Marr gave up music in 1981 after the death of his biggest mentor, Happy Chapin. Fast forward to 2005, when he realized how much he missed playing music. Since then, he has released six albums, a feat most bands and musicians can not claim. So what is the outcome of Robert Marr’s past and stories? Well, we the listeners are about to find out on his newest release, Shady Stories & White Lies.
Creating a soft album that borders on folk and alt-county, the record opens with the striking “Fool’s Gold.” A few elements are already set into place that will continue throughout the record such as Marr’s knack for storytelling, his love of acoustic instruments, and the fact that he does all of the vocal harmonies himself. That is impressive all on it’s own. “Furious” breaks a darker vocal tone into Shady Stories & White Lies, which is a good thing. He is already beginning to show the range of his songwriting and musical skills. While his instruments may be limited, his songs are not. “Parisian Subway Ball” adds a country element into the mix, with fiddle in the background. It gives the listener the comforting feel of sitting around a campfire in the backyard taking in the summer air.
“Take Me Home,” infuses the blues into the album in an unexpected way. No matter what Marr tries his hand at, he is succeeding so far. Up next is “Taboo,” which feels like it contains a bit of Ryan Adams Whiskeytown era. That is one of the biggest compliments a musician in this genre can receive. “Bad Wine,” opens with a plucked banjo and a bit of old school country storytelling, blending in well with the rest of the tracks. “The News” and “She’s Gone” exemplify heartfelt lyrics that are melancholy in tone. The accompanying music works perfectly, especially in “She’s Gone,” which is the finest piece on the record.
“The Secret” and “I’d Fit Right In” bring a tiny burst of energy to the album. Still maintaining the overall feel of acoustic and nothing but acoustic, Marr brings beauty into every piece, track to track. “Queen of Bummerville,” which is a witty name to begin with, invokes a bit of southern feel as acoustic instruments fill every inch of space. “Got No Home Blues” is the first time a female vocal comes into the mix creating a wonderful harmony that stirs up the album in an unexpected way. It adds something different but without deviating from the mix. This track is well done to say the least, as it tells the story of someone dealing with a life in crisis. Closing the album is “Walk With Me,” which opens with slight finger picking and mandolin that summons emotion in Marr’s voice in music.
Shady Stories & White Lies is a brilliant album that will appeal to music fans who enjoy folk, country and true rock and roll. Robert Marr doesn’t miss a beat with this record, and every song tells a story that never gets old. This is one album you will have on repeat for quite some time, so be prepared to embrace it. Robert Marr, we are glad you found music again. It is where you belong.
Review by Melissa Nastasi
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)