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Marlon Williams cannot be 23. Nope. Uh-uh. Not a chance.
I saw him support Jordie Lane nearly three years ago now and even then picked him for his late 20s. It’s not just his height or how dapper he looks in a button-up and straw hat, but every sound the Christchurch-born, Abbotsford-living musician makes, is far beyond his years.
It’s been an interesting few years for him, too – he’s certainly packed a lot in. He released two records with New Zealand band The Unfaithful Ways, three albums with Delaney Davidson, and has recently been cast in both film and TV roles in his home country, thanks to his inescapable brooding charm. Not bad for 23!
But now’s the time for Williams to push the solo career he’s been chipping at for a while and this self-titled album was well worth the wait, that’s for sure.
It’s concise, at just nine songs, but doesn’t feel as though it’s lacking in anything. Recorded near his family home in Christchurch, with “5 doors between the studio and mum’s house”, there’s so much diversity for a debut album, woven together by THAT voice.
It’s dark, melodic, and weirdly soothing, even in Dark Child, the video for which features Williams as some sort of psychopathic child murderer. Still cathartic.
The album contains everything from hollerin’ foot-stompin’ anthems to 60s R&B to noise, as well as swoony ballads from just Marlon and his guitar – which is never less exciting. When I Was A Young Girl is a standout, and has been the highlight of his live shows for quite a while. It’s simple, moving and could just as well be Hank Williams singing (no relation!). You can totally pick Marlon’s classical training with the Christchurch Cathedral Choir here; WHAT a vibrato.
The whole record is remarkable for someone so young because of how weathered, whiskey-soaked and so beautifully articulate of loss and loneliness it is, that it’s a thrill to imagine just where Williams will go from here (if the thrill of Hollywood doesn’t lure him in first!)
‘Marlon Williams’ is out this Friday, 24th April via Universal.
Watch: Marlon Williams – Dark Child