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Album Review

The debut full-length album from Marian Hill, 2016's Act One, deftly showcases the Philadelphia duo's somewhat arty, stripped-down R&B. Featuring the talents of producer Jeremy Lloyd and vocalist Samantha Gongol, Marian Hill also benefits from the contributions of jazz saxophonist Steve Davit, who appears throughout. Centered on Gongol's lithe vocals, the duo make a minimalist brand of pop-R&B built around robotic beats, chilly synth hits, and Davit's Cubist post-bop sax lines that often sound as if they've been sampled and spliced into the mix. One gets the sense that Marian Hill are aiming for an aesthetic somewhere along the lines of Beyoncé making an album with '80s electronic outfit Art of Noise. Occasionally they come close, and cuts like "Talk to Me" and "Take Your Time" have a fresh, kinetic energy that captures the band's art-school inclinations and catchy hooks. Elsewhere, tracks like "Down" and "Bout You" have a sultry warmth that sounds like a '90s Brandy track remixed down to its barest essential elements.

Customer Reviews

Stay Away and Stick with Sway

I've never written a review on iTunes but here it goes. I feel strongly about this so I need to say something and warn others to choose songs carefully on this album.

First, I can't say enough about Sway. That album deserves 12 stars. It's that good. 5 of the songs are classics to me and my playlist. I can't find one song in this album that I want to listen to ever again. I spread the word about Marian Hill all the time so I'm not a troll. That said, I immediately purchased this without previewing the songs because I expected it to blow me away.

I think the duo is trying too hard to make their music commercial in this album. I think they're deviating too much from what makes them great and what Rachel's smooth voice is meant to perform. She has such a goregous voice and these songs are just not able to differentiate her from the rest of the bad music being released these days that all sounds the same. As for the gentleman in the duo, the beats aren't as innovative as they were in Sway. That jazzy vibe was absent in the majority of the album.

I'll continue to financially support the duo's music in the future but I hope they come back to their roots because that is what makes them unique and truly remarkable. I look forward to the next album.


5/5 stars, 37 grammys, album of the year, breakout artist of the year, #1 debut album, record breaking

Amazed 5/5

Simply genius. Unexpectedly really enjoyed ones that weren't your usual.. "Marian Hill"!


Formed: 2013 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '10s

Marian Hill are a duo from Philadelphia consisting of singer Samantha Gongol and producer Jeremy Lloyd. Their unique sound combines sparse, minimal electronic beats with seductive vocals (which are often chopped up and manipulated) along with sultry saxophone. The duo wrote a song called "Whisky" in spring of 2013 and sent it to dozens of blogs hoping to catch some attention. The song created a buzz, and the following year, the duo released their first EP, Play, as well as a 7" single, "Lips." They...
Full Bio
ACT ONE, Marian Hill
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  • $7.99
  • Genres: Electronic, Music, Rock, Dance
  • Released: Jun 24, 2016

Customer Ratings