Ali Marcus
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Ali Marcus

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Americana Folk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Great Migration"

Seattle thrush Ali Marcus is a different kind of bird - and sure, that's an obvious (if not downright awful) pun to make. But at a point in time where the indie world is glutted with that flighty species known as "singer/songwriter," precious few of them offering much beyond mundane morning musings on the first cup of java, we probably need talents like Marcus now more than ever.

The Great Migration is Marcus' fifth album in as many years; it follows 2007's The Other Side, which was dominated by her voice, acoustic guitar and harmonica (2008 also brought an EP, Mostly Piano). This new release, however, comprises primarily full-band performances featuring members of Spoonshine, the Whisky Swillers and Angels of Sin backing Marcus up. The record kicks off with a perky little ramblin'-down-the-highway ditty, "Virginia Road," its good-time shuffle arranged for bass, drums, banjo, harp and brusque ukulele-like fretboard strums. "Bare Feet Clean" follows, an early peak on the album: with the ensemble rumbling restlessly behind her, Marcus takes a look around, notes all our troubles and worries, and serves up a message of optimism that doubles as a metaphor for cleansing the collective psyche: "There's a long dark cloud over you, can't you see/ If you believe, this ol' tune will set you free/ Take me down to the river bed and wash your bare feet clean/ Take me down to the river bed/ I'll show you what I mean."

Other highlights: the jaunty "Recession Blues," which in a stroke of prescience was apparently penned long before the financial meltdown; the downcast "Andromeda," haunting with wraithlike banjo twang; "Minnesota," a straight acoustic folk number featuring a chorus taken from a speech Obama made on the campaign trail while visiting the North Star State last year; and blues strut "Hangin' On A Wire," in which a girl-done-wrong, though scarred, still manages to get the last word in ("I will throw a party/ And you are not invited" deadpans the narrator, with barely disguised glee). Throughout, Marcus warbles delightfully in a voice that brings to mind, variously, Jolie Holland, Jenny Lewis and Shawn Colvin, and it's a supple instrument indeed, injecting turn-on-a-dime p.o.v. shifts via tiny gulps and slurs and the occasional sliding swoop into a sweet falsetto.

Marcus is kicking off an east coast tour this week (dates at her MySpace page:, so if she's anywhere near your area, don't miss her. She's the real deal, and she just might make you a believer in singer/songwriter-dom all over again.

Standout Tracks: "Hangin' On A Wire," "Minnesota," "Bare Feet Clean" FRED MILLS - Blurt

"The Great Migration"

Ali Marcus has a deceptive voice. She sings in a high soprano, with an almost conversational tone. It’s not a powerful voice. So it would be reasonable to assume that she would get lost singing with a full band. But nothing of the sort occurs.

Actually, the band is, I think, a four piece all acoustic band, with drums, stand up bass, Marcus’ guitar, and banjo or second guitar. There is also harmonica on some tracks. And not all of the instruments appear on all tracks. And Ali Marcus more than holds her own on vocals. In fact, she portrays a range of emotions in these songs that to me come as a (pleasant) surprise.

The second thing to say about The Great Migration is that Ali Marcus displays a wonderful command of the English language. These are sung poems. And Marcus covers relationships and social issues with equal eloquence. There only a couple of places where the lyrics seem underdeveloped, and these are more noticeable because Marcus sets such a high standard elsewhere. Recession Blues tries to mingle economic troubles with emotional ones, and it seems forced to me. And Hey John is a fan’s message to her musical idol, and I find it cloying. But that still leaves 11 gems.

Catastrophe uses the same strategy as Recession Blues, here intermingling global warming and relationship woes, but this time it works. And after Hey John, I was worried about Song, about the process of songwriting, but the results are fine.

Two songs stand out for me. Wapato is the kind of song Iris Dement might write. Marcus imagines a woman asking her grandmother about her recollections of The Great Depression. The grandmother recalls the happy times. And at the very end of the song, Marcus does something Dement wouldn’t do. The song has a jaunty feel to it, but all of a sudden, at the end, the pace slows abruptly and most of the band drops out, leaving just voice, guitar, and an echoey harmonica. The grandmother has left her nostalgia behind, and returned to the present. It is the most powerful moment on the album.

Poseidon equates the back and forth of the ocean’s tides to the emotions of a relationship. In the arrangement of the song, you can feel the ebb and flow of tides throughout. And the lyrics contain an air of mystery that I find very appealing. - Oliver di Pace

"The Great Migration"

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve mentioned Ali Marcus. Since then, the young songwriter from Seattle has been busy writing, recording and performing shows across the nation.

Marcus’ newest album, The Great Migration, is not due out until March, but I couldn’t hold off writing about how much I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

Previous works by the songwriter have been delivered with the intimacy of a singer with only her guitar singing her sweetly personal songs. But on The Great Migration, Marcus receives the benefit of the full backing band – one consisting of a banjo, percussion, harmonica, confident guitar and sturdy bass. Having this type of support not only packs these new batch of songs with depth and energy, but they also seem to bolster Marcus’ own confidence – she sounds completely comfortable with this new approach and it sounds good on her.

According to Marcus’ own web site, the songs that make up the new album were selected based on many of her performances last year. These were the songs that her audiences seemed to respond best to. And understandably so.

Fitting nice and snug in-between folk and country, these new songs focus on a myriad of topics. Standouts like the album’s opener, “Virginia Road,” uses a stretch of road and it’s surrounding trees as a metaphor for one’s lot in life and what one does with what’s been given to them. On the quiet, but bittersweet “Hey John,” Marcus sings to a fellow songwriter and laments their only encounter, but reminisces about their mutual distaste for Nashville and other similarities. But Marcus is perhaps at her best when heard on “Wapato,” a peppy sing-a-long packed with country hall swing.

Appropriately titled, The Great Migration amplifies Marcus’ talent as a continually burgeoning, confident songwriter.

A special offer is currently being made available for two of her previous albums, Miles and Miles and Miles and The Other Side, where if you purchase one, you get the second completely free. E-mail her for more information.

Ali Marcus is currently touring the west coast. Please be sure to check out her official site for upcoming dates and venues.

www: - Girlysounds

"Miles and Miles and Miles"

"A Matter Of Time" might be the best Dar Williams song Dar Williams never wrote. - Seattle Metblogs

"Homegirl Songstress"

If you took an early Alanis Morissette, added a dash of Lisa Loeb, a pinch of Jo-Dee Messina and mixed it up with a big ol' dose of Jennifer Nettles, you'd hear Ali Marcus' dulcet tones floating through the air. - DC Metblogs

"The Most Autobiographical Songwriter"

Obviously inspired by any number of women singer/songwriters, Marcus sounds enough unlike all of them to be described as unique, but enough like them to slide easily into the CD collections of those ladies' fans. - Seattlest

"This Woman's Work: Ali Marcus"

Marcus’ songs are delicate and sweet, lyrically rich and full of charm. Each one laced with her accomplished guitar strumming and her innocent whisper.
- Womenfolk (

"Absurdly Generous New Artist"

The music is quite beautiful. It's just Marcus and an acoustic guitar and that's all you need. The songs are remarkably strong, It's obvious from this collection that Marcus is a fine lyricist and that she's got an ear for a tune (Circle is particularly catchy and, beefed up with a full band, could stand with any of the female singer-songwriters in the charts right now). Sound wise these are strong acoustic pop tunes, instantly accessible and easily likeable. Driven by a pretty voice that occasionally recalls Jenny Lewis these are some of the best songs I've heard from a new artist in an age. - Listen to This... (

"SeattleNoise Profile"

"Folk music with heart and soul." - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"The Other Side"

Ali Marcus is a singer-songwriter from the Pacific Northwest who’s best described as coffeehouse folk. Marcus has a pleasant singing voice that’s sweet without being cloying, and she seems adept as a player, but when it’s just you, singing and strumming your acoustic guitar (with a dollop of harmonica here and there), you’re going to stand or fall by your songs. And on that count, the results are uneven. Musically, they too often have a minor-key sameness to them (punctuated by exceptions such as the airy quiet of “What If”). Lyrically, they come across as overly self-conscious and equal parts awkward rhyme-reaching (“I could ride a boat, and wonder how we float… I could read on the stair, in my underwear”) and ear-catching (“In the end there’s another bridge you’ll burn, there’s another table you’ll turn”). But there’s glimmer enough to think Marcus might be a work in progress. - Harp Magazine


"Americana Hotel" (Turtle Rock Records, 5/12)

"The Great Migration"(Turtle Rock Records, 4/09)

"Mostly Piano EP" (Turtle Rock Records, 4/08)

"The Other Side" (Turtle Rock Records, 9/07)

"Miles and Miles and Miles" (Turtle Rock Records, 1/07)

"Matchbooks, Diamonds, Mixtapes" (Turtle Rock Records, 12/05)

"Greenway Songs" (Turtle Rock Records, 6/06)



Ali is a Washington State-based songwriter who tours the country singing songs for people. She tours the festival circuit, in about 30 festivals/summer series a year, which have included CMJ, Northwest Folklife Festival, and Noise for the Needy. She has sang in lots of awesome joints, like the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Hotel Cafe in LA, IOTA Cafe in Virginia, the Living Room in NYC, the Makeout Room in San Francisco, the Starry Plough in Berkeley, the Experience Music Project and the Triple Door in Seattle. She runs her own label and books her own tours and produces her own albums (6 albums in 6 years). She also writes her own press releases, and talks about herself in the third person.

Ali has had the great pleasure of sharing bills with internationally renowned artists, such as Tom Paxton, Dar Williams, Jolie Holland, Catie Curtis, Ruthie Foster, Chatham County Line, and many other wonderful acts. Her music spans a variety of audiences, from straight-up 60's folk, to contemporary singer-songwriter, and the burgeoning Americana movement that radiates out from the Pacific Northwest like moonlight on a foggy night.

The latest record, “The Great Migration” earned a four (out of four) star review in Seattle Sound Magazine, and has garnered raving reviews from the press and fans around the country. A new album, "Americana Hotel," will be released in June 2012.

For complete details on Ali’s news and touring, please visit

ali marcus
turtle rock records

For complete details on Ali’s news and performances, please visit