Paul Mark & The Van Dorens – Gravity

The tradition of piano-clad singer/songwriters and all of the raw, unvarnished showmanship that comes with the role is an iconic and respectable one, and for Paul Mark, it’s a complete way of life. Mark has seen a lot in his career – honestly, if he had gone through the past three decades of recording without having a story or two to tell it would be rather strange, wouldn’t it? With his backing band the Van Dorens intact, he broaches his eleventh commercially-released LP, titled Gravity, with a swagger that instantly makes otherwise dreary numbers like “O T B” or “December at the P.O.” more than palatable – he makes them dreamlike and relatable.

He crushes us with a bluesy vocal in “Heart Full of Soul,” allows bursting colors in the piano to do all the talking for him in “Forever” and even lends himself over to an experimental gypsy rock in “Gravity is Failing” that will have you swinging to its beat inside of thirty seconds. Bucking every trend thrown in his direction in the name of self-exploration, the musician known as Paul Mark gives us a record you can recognize as one of a kind whether you’ve heard his music before or not.

You Can Take It with You,” despite its brash tonal demeanor, the slow “Friend Gone Astray” and “Waiting Round For You” each feel particularly intimate, with the music reflecting the depth of emotionality in the lyrics even more than it has to for us to get the point here. “Con Man VIP” is a little more commentarial than its tracklist neighbors are, but even with its aggressive attitude being taken into consideration, it doesn’t disrupt the larger concept within the other material in this LP even slightly.

The aesthetical balance in Gravity is really something that Paul Mark should be proud of, and although this isn’t his first well-produced album, it’s definitely one of the best he’s put out since the 1990s.

There’s a freewheeling, almost live-like edge to “I Spin When You Grin,” “The Next Fight” and even the instrumental “Coronation” that stings extra hard, and while the mix is generally pretty rough and tumble, this wouldn’t appear to be the result of artistic neglect. Contrarily, I think the players weren’t getting caught up in subtle details here; they were too busy focusing on the mightily melodic faceting that makes every song an interesting look into Paul Mark’s life.

If this is just a preview of what Paul Mark & the Van Dorens are going to keep recording in the next era of their time in the spotlight together, they’re going to be around for a long while to come. It could be interesting to hear the main man of this LP collaborate with other artists outside of his backing band in the future, mostly because of how much he has to share with the emerging generation of singer/songwriters and neo-beat poets trying to make a name for themselves in 2020. Mark has a gift, and he’s sharing it with the whole world in Gravity.

If you enjoyed the preview for Gravity, check out the official website for Paul Mark by clicking here. Pick up a copy of Gravity by clicking here!

Eric Jarvis

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