It’s a fact, gravity is failing, look about…you can’t miss the signs, the beguiling New Yorker Paul Mark sings in the tune “Gravity Is Falling”. His voice, a combination of the Louisiana swamps and a hardened NYC smoke-filled room, is just one of the accoutrements to these gregarious songs in the new collection Gravity (Radiation Records), a 12-song album from Paul Mark & The Van Dorens.
Listening to Gravity is a lot like being suspended in wonderment. Mark’s exceptional piano skills and ingenious lyrics give each song a uniqueness. All at once, the listener is warped into this melodious, parlor-like atmosphere. Just when things get comfy, Mark and the band throw in some real rockers and spin the dial to a heavier, more rock n roll crafted experience. Mark’s lyrics suggest a deeper meaning, a unique storytelling viewpoint that balances between political realities and lovey-dovey dew drop tunes.
One of the standouts in Gravity is the delightful “I Spin You Grin”. Perhaps made for a time exhibiting more innocence, this wonderfully-crafted song is the result of a musician that has complete control over his art and an equal amount of respect for his listeners. I went dizzy, I won’t deny, when I first got a load of your style, I’m twirling inside like a carnival ride, whenever you radiate that smile, Mark sings. He describes the scene, the picturesque backdrop that is so New York. It just speaks to the romanticism of the city – the chance encounter and charm that can occur amongst the city’s lights.
In the short but character-driven tune “OTB” Mark continues his love letter to NYC with the lyrics if like you said lady, your dad was reed man in the Broadway pits for all those years. He excels at creating a time and space for his listener, the kind of tone and moment one thought went out the window with the Great American Songbook. His piano plays along, the lovely full sound leaving the listener affixed to every note. Mark’s voice, as playful and fresh from a stint at smoky joe’s café, is the kind of narrative one hopes for each night at bedtime.
“Heart Full of Soul” has the band amplifying the sound, even combining Americana and roots traits. This song switches the gears, and kind of squiggles around a western-rock motif. That twist and turn allows the listener to visit an otherwise not explored sound with the band – adding to their passport stamp a Southwestern entry. Mark maintains a NYC-essence and reminds us why it’s great to visit, but home is The Big Apple.
Gravity is Paul Mark & The Van Dorens’ 11th studio album. Recent projects include
Stowaways and Smartest Man In The Room. The Van Dorens are a rotating group of musicians and while that synergy could theoretically be lost in translation, it’s far from the case. This band, no matter who’s at the drum kit or the guitar, fits like a glove with Paul Mark’s fantastic chops. He’s quite the musician and more importantly, a true artistic story teller.