All Sides Facing Out - A track by track review
Every bit as good as CITY but in an entirely different way. ALL SIDES explores the softer side of Marcus's musical repertoire and offers some of his best compositions to date. Perhaps one ballad too many can be found here, but in fairness each one is played well and takes a slightly different approach. The more experimental songs really shine, and also add variety and balance to the album as a whole. This is a great selection of songs that stands right up next to his TOGETHER album of greatest hits. ALL SIDES is an album that was a long time in the making but well worth the wait!
A track by track review:
1) Don't Matter: In my opinion the opening track is a shinning example of what Marcus does best. Of the many different styles he plays, it's the smooth and jazzy adult contemporary numbers like this that he renders as well as the very best in the genre. The pairing of Steve Agelakos guitar work and the many layers that Marcus puts down behind a strong vocal make this my favourite track on the CD. I would love to hear a whole CD pairing these two great players. This song stands alongside some of the very best songs Marcus has done: Everyday, Driving Away and Nextime. Well done! My Rating: A+++
2) Running To The Light: I remember hearing a rough version of this song many years ago on a cassette tape. I liked it then, and I like it even more now. This new revamped version is played to perfection. I love the cuban influence and the song writing is great too. My Rating: A+
3) Anyway: A nice laid back track, and a good example of the straight-forward smooth grooves Marcus does between his more experimental wanderings. This may not be a single, but it's still a nice track with some good lines in it. My Rating: A-
4) Half: This cool song trades ska verses with a hard rocking chorus. It's an experiment that works, and a strong rock track to balance out the many ballads on the CD. It's very current sounding too – I'm hearing a lot of new songs with ska references on mainstream radio these days, this would certainly fit right in there. My Rating: A
5) Away: A big sad ballad with a heart-felt vocal that really rips in places set against a nice acoustic guitar and piano backing. Not one of my favourites on the CD, but still well composed and played. The echoing electronic beat is layered in the back and the more traditional piano sound replaces the synths to good effect here. My Rating: B-
6) Things To Do: Much more powerful than the previous track, and one of my favourites. Not exactly a power ballad, but I suppose you could call it that. Sweeping and orchestral with some well placed breaks that frame the subtle and introspective lyrics. Marcus reaches a new level of song writing here. Things To Do calls to mind some of the stronger moments on his "Green" CD, but done even better. My Rating: A++
7) Empty: The darkness creeps in on this track. The twisted and echoing vocal stylings drive the song and the signature guitar sound that can be found on many of Marcus's CDs is in fine form here. My Rating: B+
8) Looking Over Here: Mellow and personal. A nice ballad with a full sound that floats along comfortably in the back three of the CD. I like this one better than Away.
My Rating: A-
9) Do Today: A nice little feel-good song that reminds me a bit of Jack Johnson. The lazy harmonica accents the track well. This is the most stripped down number on the album and would even sound good on a children's music CD. Not the reason I put on his CD's, but for all of Marcus's production skills this shows yet another side that he can do a simple track just as well. It's a good song for all that it doesn't try to accomplish, and a good example of how sometimes less is more. My Rating: B
10) Real Time: Once again one of the best numbers is saved for last. The closing track finds Marcus back in a contemplative mood. The lyrics are among the most powerful on the CD and cut deep but also offer up a glimmer of hope in this downcast ending. The slide guitar sound adds weight to the proceedings and the subtle sample of the schoolyard kids adds a touch of nostalgia to the song, it's like a reference back to an easier more carefree time in life. Great song, great CD. My Rating: A++
My Overall Rating for ALL SIDES FACING OUT: A+