Marc Block’s The Hawthorn Spring has certainly sprung itself into the spotlight following the success of his EP ’
One Year From Now. With the latter having been greeted with deserved praise, Marc’s debut album looks set to confirm him as an exciting new singer-songwriter, storyteller and performer.
The thirteen track album features arrangements of traditional and well-loved songs but predominantly showcases Marc’s talent as a songwriter.
The listener may recognise favourites such as I Live Not Where I Love where intertwining vocal parts and instrumental harmonies are layered to create a full and interesting sound.
Amongst his self-penned songs A Foggy Lullaby stands out with a memorable guitar riff, striking vocal performances and an imaginative arrangement.
Marc is joined on the album by a truly talented bunch, including special contributions from Will Pound, Roy Bailey and Lucy Ward. The equally stunning performances by Alex Cumming (accordion), Elly Lucas (fiddle/viola), Seth Tinsley (guitar/bass) and Jay Leivers (guitar) provide an interesting backdrop which lift the album and help create variation and contrast between tracks.
Much of the variation comes with Marc’s choice to introduce an element of the blues into his performance. He does this mainly in High Water where the shift in style is flawless and really helps to add to the overall character of the album.
The tone of Marc’s voice is naturally suited to telling stories through his performances and it is evident that his passion lies in song writing. He often draws on personal experiences when composing songs meaning that not only does each speak honestly of true life, love and loss but he creates a close relationship between his music and his listeners.
The Hawthorn Spring touches on a range of popular themes but often goes further to treat notions which are a little more sensitive such as in The Ballad of Penny Evans (an anti-war song) and Tony’s Song (which tells of the devastation caused by nuclear weapons tests). The addition of such songs gives the album great depth, particularly considering Marc’s delicate treatment of the subjects in hand.
Credit must also be given for Marc’s sublime guitar performances throughout the album. There is a definite feeling of balance and unity between his singing and playing with both flowing together seamlessly. The album holds a steady pace, altering tempo occasionally within and between songs but enabling the listener to engage with the clever use of imagery and the often poetic feel to the lyrics.
Marc won the Song Slam competition at Towersey Village Festival in 2009 and with the release of such a powerful and dynamic album, such a victory is unsurprising. The Hawthorn Spring will appeal to an audience with a keen ear for both a good story and a unique twist on a traditional song. A truly delightful collection of songs which are well worth a listen.Rebekah Foard
Released 15th April 2013 on Hairpin Records
1. The Bonny Boy
2. I Live Not Where I Love
3. Windswept Islands
4. Sule Skerry
5. Tony’s Song
6. The Ballad Of Penny Evans
7. A Foggy Lullaby
8. High Water (For Charley Patton)
9. These Dismays
10. Monday-Morning Blues
11. A Sailor’s Life
12. The Handsome Lad
13. Greenwood Laddie