Being Creative with the Blues
Blues prodigy Marcus King has been very open about his dark moments, but he has used his personal challenges to make his lyrics more relatable on his outstanding second album, Young Blood (26 August 2022/ American Records/Republic).
And the guitar maestro quickly saw a reward on his emotional investment, as it went straight in at number one on the Billboard Top Blues Album Chart, with Melinda Newman of Billboard describing it as "a staggeringly confident work."
The album has again been produced by Dan Auerbach, who has brought the best out of King’s extraordinary playing and profoundly soulful voice, and in the process taken him to a new level. King said that ‘his vision was to capture the sound of some of the classic power trios such as Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top,’ and these 11 blues rock tracks are proof that he has achieved his goal.
The rocking It’s Too Late will perhaps be the album’s highlight for many, as while it covers familiar themes about a relationship that is falling apart, it sounds fresh and leaves you wanting more.
My favourite track, however, is the more restrained Rescue Me, on which you can practically feel King’s pain in the words. “Only vice, coke and whiskey/
Walk the line, carry my suffering with me,” he sings, “Rescue me/ Take my hand, help me stand/ Rescue me/ In your arms where I belong.”
Opener Lie, Lie, Lie, is another standout track, which immediately sounds like a classic. King shows his feelings in various ways on this cut, not least of which is on his angry guitar solo. On one of the accompanying live videos he is playing a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, which he seems to have reached for on most of his gigs this year.
On the video for the single Hard Working Man, however, King can be seen with his reissue Gibson E5-345 electric, which helps make the song an earworm that I immediately had on repeat. Similarly moving Blood on the Tracks, which was co-written by the legendary Bon Jovi and Aerosmith songwriter Desmond Child.
The songs entitled Pain and Blues Worse Than I Ever Had are further examples of King wearing his heart on his sleeve, with the latter reportedly related to what King did to numb himself after the loss of one of his close family. On Young Blood, King has mined his blues to create some authentic gold for us, and in the process created a record that’s not to be missed.