Over the course of his songwriting career, Kendell Marvel has spent time in the same rooms as many Nashville heavyweights, including Chris Stapleton (“Either Way”) and Jim Lauderdale (“Twang”). Even so, he had a rare moment of intimidation when he was working on his new album and producer Dan Auerbach scheduled a writing session with beloved neo-traditionalist John Anderson.
“He’s right there at the top with Hank Jr. and Randy Travis for me,” says Marvel. “He’s got that big voice. I call him a drive-by singer — he sounds like he’s in a car going by when he sings. But he was so cool, it was like I’d known him forever.”
The three of them composed the song “Hard Time With the Truth,” which premieres today via Rolling Stone. It’s the first release from Marvel’s upcoming album Solid Gold Sounds, which Auerbach (who’s overseen recent country albums from Dee White and Yola) co-produced with Dave Ferguson. As with past projects, the Black Keys singer-guitarist employed the Easy Eye studio band of icons like drummer Gene Chrisman and pianist Bobby Wood to create a sound that’s at once retro and totally contemporary.
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Shadowy reverb and rumbling pianos augment the gentle-but-menacing vocals supplied by Marvel, singing from the perspective of a man who’s haunted by his demons and unable to settle down. “If I’m being honest, it’s easier to lie/Than to go and break a promise/Go and make you cry,” he sings.
It’s quite a stylistic shift from the rowdy, in-your-face country rock of Marvel’s 2017 album Lowdown & Lonesome, but that was at least part of the point of working with someone like Auerbach.
“I remember saying to Dan when we first starting working together, ‘Have you listened to my album?’” says Marvel. “He was like, ‘You don’t want to make that record again, do you? You’ve already made it.’ I was like, ‘Hm, you’ve got a point. I want to do something completely different.’”
Solid Gold Sounds will be released October 11th and features 10 new tracks, nine of which Marvel co-wrote. The album also features a cover of the Bee Gees’ “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You.”
Kendell Marvel – Solid Gold Sounds track list:
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