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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Mark-Knight-Mark-Knight-Review-2015

MARK KNIGHT - MARK KNIGHT - ALBUM REVIEW

Knifewound | Release Date: October 27th 2015

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Mark Knight has been making music now for years now, from his early bands through to the late eighties foray with the original Bang Tango, through The Worry Beads to today where he splits his creativity between solo releases like ‘Bone Rail Tight’ and work with The Unsung Heroes who produced a glorious album ‘Road Sick Eyes’ a couple of years back.


These days of course there’s more of a laidback vibe to his music, and whilst there’s been a distinct Americana feel to recent output this new platter sees him stripped bare, acoustic and in prime singer-songwriter mode. It’s still grounded in Rock, Blues, and Country but somehow this time with the stripped-back nature and the fact the album is self-titled it feels all the more personal.


Like always though with Mark it’s best foot forward and you can’t help feel the rock leanings of opening track ‘Just Go’ which simmers like Tom Petty and twists like someone who has seen it all and finally feels comfortable bearing his soul. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how a song is presented it’s all about the essence, and ‘Just Go’ puts him immediately right up there with writers like Jason Isbell, Ben Howard and even Neil Young.


‘Whisky and Stars’ takes the sound right back to the bare bone with a light countrified trek that is lifted by one of his best choruses to date. It’s a gem of a song that could stop a fight in a Southern bar, stop a rabid beast in its tracks or sooth a broken heart.


There’s an essential sadness to tracks like ‘Blood on the Hands’: a song that captures the essence of loss and longing. It’s almost as if the feel of latter-day rocked up songs like Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead or Alive’ have been distilled and made real and so much more powerful by taking the gloss away and revealing the bones of it all, the real story, the authentic sound, the very roots and that essentially is why an album like this resonates so much with the listener.


The mournful ‘Do No Harm’ has so much emotion you could almost wring it from your speakers as it trickles out. It’s the sort of song that makes you realise how little genre and orchestration means in the scheme of things – when you hear a song this good it needs no more than, as Steve Marriot once said, voice and guitar.  A great song is a great song and if you can strip everything away and it still stands up you have it. It’s certainly our favourite here amongst some stiff competition and the sort of song we hope Mark will be making for years to some.


The rest of the album maintains the quality of the opening numbers, from the low-key uplifting lilt of ‘Better Days’ (the song  I most remember from my studio preview earlier in the year) through the storytelling of ‘Tell Me Everything’ and the light, lifting ride through ‘Toss and Turn’ which features some great understated guitar.


The album, stripped back as it is has a great sound and as always there’s some great production from Tom Lavin who really knows how to capture the essence of these songs and let them breathe. The players too deserve a big mention – Matt Abts of Gov’t Mule and Tigg Ketler on drums, Tony Marsico and Reeve Downes on bass and Mark Knight himself as well as Mark Tremalgia on guitar - all do great jobs.   


 ‘Falling Like Fate’ is another big moment here, opening with  a gentle guitar and augmented by a sweet female backing vocal it sinks its gentle teeth in and doesn’t let go, before the more playful ‘Used to Be’ lightens things up and drifts along with a beautiful  guitar break just adding to the overall feel.


The intriguingly titled ‘Pain is like a Radio’ eases us to the close with a great vocal line and some sweet slide guitar, it’s one of the tracks I was most excited to hear again after listening to the rough mix earlier in the year and here it sits perfectly, broken by a great solo. It’s the sort of song that seeps into your consciousness and keeps reappearing, demanding another listen.


Closing track ‘Casting Judgement’ again has echoes of Tom Petty who famously referenced the ‘Valley’ on his biggest hit ‘Free Falling’, proving that despite his Floridian roots there was a place for rootsy American music in the West despite it being more known for the eighties excess of Hair Metal, and prior to that the hippies and the west coast surf pop of the Beach Boys. This is an album that proves that it doesn’t matter where you’re from – the heart of real American music can beat anywhere.


When you look at artists plying their trade in this kind of field – the big names like Jason Isbell, Jeff Tweedy, even artists as familiar as Butch Walker and Ryan Adams you wonder why music of this caliber is still so relatively underground. It can surely only be a matter of time till Mark Knight is talked about in similar terms, and it’s all thoroughly deserved.

 

by Mark Rockpit

 

 


 

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