“Timeless” is a word used too often when describing music, yet it’s the word that comes to mind again and again when listening to 'A Million Different Shades,' the debut album from singer/songwriter Marshall Drew. The independent release is refreshingly devoid of the trends and gimmicks flooding the airwaves; it is instead shot through with enduring themes and emotions that have always been vital to the human experience. It is an album that would have sounded just as vibrant had it been released 30 years ago, and will no doubt sound just as relevant 30 years from now.
Marshall Drew was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town whose contributions to blues music many decades ago sealed its musical legacy. Drew himself became interested in music at a young age, learning his first guitar chords at age 5 and writing his first song at 8.
“I guess I was a fairly normal kid,” Drew says. “The only thing that set me apart was that I really loved music. I’d invite my friends over to play and just put on one of my dad's old Beatles albums! To me, that was a good time, but they were probably bored out of their minds...”
Drew’s dedication to music eventually paid off, and he became a renowned young guitarist around his hometown, playing with several local bands throughout his teens and early twenties. He logged countless miles playing blues music in bars and festivals around the Mississippi Delta. His musical travels led him to exploring the highest echelons of popular songwriting, and it’s these influences that most clearly inform the songs on 'A Million Different Shades.'
“I’m interested in serious songwriters,” Drew says. “Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young – these are the guys that are on my mind the most. I don’t go around looking for the next big thing. I like the classics.”
Musically, Drew’s songs are tightly composed and instantly appealing, with strong melodies and memorable choruses. Drew takes to heart an attitude that he feels many of his peers have discounted – that a good hook is nothing to fear.
“With a lot of young singer-songwriters these days, it’s like they equate catchiness with disposability,” Drew says. “But ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ is as catchy as anything, and it’s certainly no less of an artistic achievement for it. I’ve always loved bands that put a big emphasis on hooks, like The Beatles and Big Star.”
Much like those of his heroes when they were young, Drew’s lyrics seem wise beyond their author’s years. Most of them seem to survey the damage after the collapse of a relationship, and Drew imbues them with a tangible sense of pathos, perceptiveness and wry wit that begs comparison to the classic breakup songs of Dylan himself. Listen, for instance, to “In the End”, where he sings, ‘I still believe that a heart can always be earned,’ before demolishing the sentiment with ‘And that only goes to show how little I’ve learned.’
Then there’s the title track. “A Million Different Shades” (the song) is devastatingly fatalistic. With the sparsest of accompaniment, Drew sings with a cold detachment that is betrayed only by the scars laid bare in the lyrics. ‘You say I wasn’t honest with you, and yeah I guess that’s plain to see,’ he sings. ‘But for every lie I told to you, I told a hundred more to me.’ The song ends with a particularly hard blow: ‘Now the days are endless, and the nights are twice that long/So we should have plenty of time to figure out where we went wrong.’
But it’s not all heartbreak and calamity. “Before the Storm Comes Down” is as potent an example of youthful yearning and aspiration as anything off 'Born to Run.' It’s a song for anyone who’s ever felt trapped but who holds on to hope without guarantees. ‘I’m so tired of just hanging on/Y’know it makes you fierce, but it don’t make you strong,’ Drew sings, perfectly encapsulating the essence of a dead-end existence. But with a spirited ‘Come on, baby!’ he leaps into the chorus, lifting the song into one of optimism and possibility. Likewise, “I Believe In You” is a wonderful love song, told from the perspective of one who has finally embraced devotion without barriers: ‘If you hold me close I won’t let go/I’m finally seeing further than my nose/The road is hard and far to go/And I see no reason to be alone.’
It’s these themes that ultimately define Marshall Drew’s music – themes that are as old as time but, when in the hands of the right songwriter, are made new again. Here we find something that becomes increasingly rare in this day and age – an artist whose work has the potential to endure.
“That’s the thing about writing a song,” Drew says. “It’s not something that’s over with once you finish it. As long as people keep listening, a song can go on forever.”
MARSHALL DREW - vocals, guitar
Jesse Scheider - guitar, vocals
Richard Crisman - bass, vocals
Audie Aderholt - drums
A MILLION DIFFERENT SHADES (LP - 2009)
Drew's New Album the Perfect Shade
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26/07/2009 Gramm Phillips Modern music has been influenced by so many groups and artists from ...26/07/2009
Modern music has been influenced by so many groups and artists from around the 1960s folk rock era that it’s a bit difficult to pinpoint the true revolutionary. Some say The Beatles revolutionized the music industry with their melodic verses, choruses that stand out and inventive chord changes. Others might argue that Bob Dylan is the real mastermind. He is, after all, considered by millions to be one of the best lyricists to have ever lived.
At any rate, Dylan and The Beatles still manage to influence songwriters and musicians today. Some people cherish their talents more than others. Here in Clarksdale, they still get credit from musicians like Marshall Drew who grew up listening to mom and dad’s favorite tunes.
Anyone who listens to music having some kind of a folk background will appreciate Drew’s music. He’s managed to make a business for himself playing in clubs around town and festivals here and around the Delta. A diverse musician, Drew has played in several rock bands and really tapped in to the blues.
Now music lovers can finally grab the opportunity to hear Marshall’s original music. He’s put a lot of work into his debut album that he will be releasing very soon. The album is given the title A Million Different Shades, which is the title of one of the tracks on the album. The album’s got a sound that fits right in with the music of his influences. Any Dylan or Neil Young fans will especially enjoy this new album. Sure, it’s got that classic tone to it, but it stands out among modern music. This album has a sound of its own really, and listeners might be able to place it in the same category as that of The Wallflowers, a band fronted by Bob Dylan’s son Jakob.
I had the opportunity of hearing the work in progress back in the spring when Marshall was still recording in the studio. Even those early tracks without the lyrics added made a lasting impression on me. Hours of work and layer upon layer of guitar mixes gave the tracks on the album an intense, crisp, clean tone. Acoustic guitars and electric guitars are mixed outstandingly well with the drums and the bass. Some songs have keyboards added into them, giving that unmistakable Dylan tone of the ‘60s.
A Million Different Shades is simply a breath of fresh air. The songs have remarkable lyrics, each with their own value and meaning that one can identify and relate to, and they stand out in the sense that they’re so melodic and the choruses are easy to remember. Each track has a different feel. The title track, “A Million Different Shades” is slow and pretty, featuring a memorable guitar riff. “Before the Storm Comes Down” is fast and electric, featuring clean guitars and an organ. The most powerful and dramatic track perhaps is “When Tomorrow Comes” which has that kind of hard hitting Neil Young feel while including chord changes in the chorus that in my mind resemble those of Pink Floyd or The Beatles.
Anyone who would like to hear Drew’s work can preview the album at his Myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/marshalldrew). The influences are all there, and some who have heard the music have said the album has a sound like that of Tom Petty or of Bruce Springsteen, who also play a major role in Marshall’s music. The album is all original and worth hearing, and according to Drew, should be available within the next three weeks to purchase.
Marshall Drew - A Million Different Shades
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Among the numerous musical proposals circulating among radio and broadband, it rarely happens to com...Among the numerous musical proposals circulating among radio and broadband, it rarely happens to come across some “born to run” artist, metaphorically speaking. The young Marshall Drew is a great songwriter born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town famous for the blues flavor permeating many musical proposals of a few decades ago, the golden years of the genre. This record could play loud and vigorous thirty years ago, no doubt about it, and the initial Springsteen likeness is certainly not a case: A Million Different Shades is a very good album of heartland rock, embroidering simplicity and immediacy All attributes that sound a little outdated, but still exciting, reflecting a dimension that cannot die, along with a genre that perfectly represents. The Boss makes a master in the sphere of influence, but there are clear references to those who did not hesitate to go up the river, Michael McDermott in the first place. The initial Further Down The Road is a manifesto, a beating rock that speaks the language of everyday life, beautiful guitar leveled in dust and fatigue, Sorry is a great song where electricity and drums played to perfection, In The End a ballad in classic blue collar style, like Easy, I Believe In You, the title track, By Your Side and the closing Just Let It Go, where the electro-acoustic sound melts intense and interesting lyrics. Before The Storm Comes Down sounds like the E Street of the Swinging Seventies, with an organ combining the influences, When Tomorrow Comes deviates a bit from the rest, with its vaguely hypnotic brit-pop of the Eighties. For lovers of the Boss and the like.
Marshall Drew and his band typically perform the ten original songs from 'A Million Different Shades' plus covers from classic artists to round out the night.
A partial cover song list:
(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan/The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You - Wilson Pickett
Don't Look Back In Anger - Oasis
Free Fallin' - Tom Petty
Hard To Handle - Otis Redding/The Black Crowes
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Heart of Gold - Neil Young
Honky Tonk Women - The Rolling Stones
I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty
Into the Mystic - Van Morrison
Knocking on Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
Mary Jane's Last Dance - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan/The Byrds
Proud Mary - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 - Bob Dylan'
Stand By Me - Ben E. King
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley
The Weight - The Band
Three Marlenas - The Wallflowers
Up on Cripple Creek - The Band
Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show
Who Will Stop the Rain? - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Workingman's Blues - Merle Haggard
You Don't Know How It Feels - Tom Petty
Marshall Drew and his band have enough material to fill four 45-minute sets of music!
There are no upcoming dates at this time.
|Jun 25, 2010 Friday||9:00 PM||(Private party)||Cleveland, MS, US|
|Jun 12, 2010 Saturday||9:00 PM||(Private party)||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|May 14, 2010 Friday||6:00 PM||Ground Zero Bike Rally||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|May 1, 2010 Saturday||8:00 PM||The Tavern on the Square||Batesville, MS, US|
|Apr 30, 2010 Friday||7:00 PM||Delta Blues Museum Stage||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|Apr 28, 2010 Wednesday||5:00 PM||(Private party)||Robinsonville, MS, US|
|Apr 23, 2010 Friday||8:30 PM||Tricia's||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|Apr 22, 2010 Thursday||9:00 PM||Rooster's||Oxford, MS, US|
|Apr 17, 2010 Saturday||2:00 PM||Juke Joint Festival (New Roxy stage)||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|Apr 15, 2010 Thursday||7:00 PM||Hopson Plantation||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|Apr 10, 2010 Saturday||7:00 PM||(Private party)||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|Apr 9, 2010 Friday||7:00 PM||(Private party)||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|Apr 3, 2010 Saturday||9:30 PM||The Stone Pony||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|Apr 1, 2010 Thursday||8:00 PM||The Stone Pony||Clarksdale, MS, US|
|Mar 29, 2010 Monday||9:00 PM||(Private party)||Cleveland, MS, US|