Gravity (LP) from Paul Mark & The Van Dorens
Every action has a reaction and the listening experience for the new album Gravity from Paul Mark & The Van Dorens is dynamite. Particles of jazz, specimens of rock and a whole lotta shaking going on, Gravity is 12 times the action and 12 times the sonic pleasure. From the precocious “Gravity Is Falling” to the delightful “December at the P.O.”, Mark’s sense of storytelling is second to none.
Based in New York City, the perfect backdrop for character-filled song ingredients, Mark’s backing band is actually a bit of a Ferris Wheel of musicians, with Mark the lone rider. This latest album is the band’s 11th studio release via Radiation Records, comes off the heels of
Stowaways and Smartest Man In The Room.
Mark’s voice is juicy. It’s like a Bloody Mary. Horseradish sauce, some fruit, maybe a few carrots and enough liquor to keep you vertical. He embodies the pulse of New York City in one simple sigh or in one haughty laugh. With “Gravity Is Falling” he has the listener wrapped around his piano-playing fingers. An interpretation of this song – a political protest song if you will – is relishing. Walz on strangers to the music of the spheres, sway towards the heavens, which way is that from here? All that’s new under the sun, are ghosts in a hall of mirrors, we live, die, then revive, and waltz the Vale of Tears, Mark sings, a jazzy backdrop that could fit in yesteryear or a bizarre Twilight Zone episode.
Using that same stick-it-to-the-man persona, the lyrics for the audacious “Con Man VIP” gives triggers an immediate reaction to President Trump and fake news. Blustering down the boulevard in a fact-free cloud, high-horse red carpet, tossing nickels to the crow, check it mister, the whole planet’s lookin’ at me, paints the perfect picture of a narcissist and placate. A light-hearted, music-box like piano bed adds to the absurdity and true artistic achievement.
In “Heart Full of Soul” the amp is turned up higher and the stakes are just as high. A hovering layer of electric guitar, like a rip in the ozone, bursts through, giving this track a higher octane vibe. And I know, that if she had me back again, well I would never make her sad, I’ve gotta heart full of soul, Mark sings with confidence and slight arrogance of a love lost.
The sentimental “December at the P.O.” returns Mark behind the ivory keys. He’s no Nat King Cole, but this different take on the holiday season, and the sometimes sadness of being a postal worker. It’s another overtime Sunday, it’s an 18-hour shift, and a trick knee that blew out, on a Black Friday’s lift, and that renaissance-stamp Jesus, it’s a million mercies that are just passing through, we’ll drink in the new year, once this blizzard blows through, creates an immediate reaction. As a listener, I laughed at the thought of the baby Jesus stamps and thought of the silliness of seeing those over and over. Mark’s take on it all is just a remarkably fun and Twain-like perception.