Marie Black
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Marie Black

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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"SF Weekly's Pick of the Week"

Twentyomething years ago, sandwiched between North Beach girlie clubs and smokey jazz joints, tiny clubs spawned the folk acts that soon grew from underground buzz to legendary status. Once again, the Bay Area is a hothouse for a new wave of folkies, like singer/songwriter Marie Swan. Her sultry voice, smooth and sweet as honey, is a perfect foil to her bittersweet songs of love gone bad. Her recent release, Saints, weighs heavily with country and blues influences, somewhere between Melissa Etheridge and the Indigo Girls. She plays at a pro-choice benefit this Sunday. Check SF Weekly listings for details. - San Francisco Weekly


"Eddie's Picks"

Marie Swan has been doing the press rounds locally with an interesting release of what strikes me as very personal, very listenable material, Saints. The CD is released on her own (get this spelling right) foolishflokmusik label and wes recorded in San Francisco, then mastered at Terra Nova in Ausin. Marie has spent some serious time on the west coast honing her skills and performing at various venues. Recently, she's been delighting local audiences with her own brand of, shall we say, "folk-rock" but plans on returning to SF sometime this month, citing a lack of paying gigs for local acoustic artists.

Her voice reminds many a critic of the Indigo Girls meets Melissa Etheridge with its unique blend of heartbreak & defiance. This lends well to lyrics which seem so lived-through and personal.

Various musician/friends guest on the CD (which seems to get better song after song) while Swan mans the acoustic guitar. The title track, "Saints," is a good introduction as to what Marie is capable of with that voice of hers and is the first strong track on the disc. "It's Your Heart" is the most "Austin" song of the lot with its funk induced groove and vocal stylings reminiscent of bands like 2 Nice Girls. Next is "Crossfire," one of the most poignant songs of unrequited love to come along in a while. Its mix of strength, anger, and melancholy is truly indicative of Swan's terrific ability to express such emotions in song. Of the ten tracks on the disc, the final, "Maybe Never," is the perfect way to end. It begins soft and defenseless and extends into a strong and proud rocker. Fitting, as Marie Swan strikes me as the type of person who definitely goes out kickin'. - Austin Music


"Willamette Week, March 2008"

Black’s deep vibrato and confident delivery could distinguish her in the femme-folk-rock sweepstakes - by Jeff Rosenberg


"Marie Black – Water Me (CD)"

“Drop Of Love” is the initial track on “Water Me”, and this track has a humanity to it that a number of major-label releases are seemingly unable to have. The vocals on “Drop Of Love” are approachable to a degree that is simply not heard in most current music, and the resulting Marie Black track is something that draws heavily on the vocal history established by individuals like Janis Joplin, Ani DiFranco, and Tori Amos. However, rather than be in that trio’s collective shadow, Black is able to bring something new to the table.

Contrary to a number of female singer-songwriters, who tend towards having fairly lackadaisical musical arrangements on their CD (making their vocals stronger by comparison), the tracks on “Water Me” have a battle back and forth between the vocals and the instrumentation. This means that the quality of a “Stray Animals” or “Amphibian” is simply delightful, and each guitar line, drum beat, or piano arrangement is just as impressive as Black’s own formidable vocals. The title track has a tempo that distinguishes it from the rest of the disc; the slower, sluggish style of the instrumentation here is deliberate, allowing Black’s vocals to attain a level of emotion that will affect anyone that may be listening. “Flowered Gun” is a straight-forward rock track, drawing heavily on the psychedelic genre while still having something to say to younger listeners.

Black’s vocals pull double-duty here in that they convey lyrics as well as providing some additional harmony to the arrangements on the track. The desire of Black to challenge preconceived notions of proper time signatures (heard as well on “Flowered Gun”) further establishes “Water Me” as a “one of kind” type of album. The heavier, harder approach of “Flowered Gun” mellows out for “Hollywood Stage”, but the one constant between the two tracks (as well as the rest of the tracks on “Water Me”) is a quality that does not waiver. Any track, whether it be “One Night Stand” or “Wrecking Ball”, could conceivably rocket up radio charts. Purchase “Water Me” and hear some entertaining rock that has no easy comparison; Marie Black is impressive when it comes to crafting a unique-yet-approachable disc.

Top Tracks: Amphibian, Stray Animals

Rating: 8.0/10 - NeuFutur Magazine


Discography

1.) Marie's latest twelve song record, WATER ME, is now available at amazon.com, cdbaby.com & iTunes, and www.acornbodycare.com.

Players:
Matthew Higgins � Drums
Paul Prato � Bass
Lair Steen � Guitar

Guest Musicians:
Tim Ellis � Guitar
John-Pierre Garau � Keyboards & Hammond Organ
Mike Snyder � Percussion
Nelly Kovalev � Viola
Paul - Saxaphone
Rob Stroup - Drums: Wrecking Ball

Backup Vocals:
Wrecking Ball & Portland Rain: Laura Myers & Reina G. Collins
Hollywood Sage: Mark Anderson

8 Ball Studio - Basic Tracks, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals � Rob Stroup, Engineer
Kung Fu Bakery � Guitar, Sax, Percussion - Dave Friedlander, Engineer
Supernatural Sound � Viola, Upright Bass, Backup Vocals, Vocals
- Sarah Bloch, Engineer

Mixed at Supernatural Sound by Sarah Bloch, Evan Zinner & Marie Black

All songs �2008 Marie Swan Black
All songs & sound recordings owned by Marie Swan Black

album art by Thomas James

2. Ten song CD, 'Saints' produced and performed by Marie Swan and features some of the bay area's best musical talent: David Denny, formerly of the Steve Miller Band on electric guitar; Pete Scaturro, known for his keyboard artistry on albums by Joe Satriani and Chris Isaac and soundtracks for television's "The Practice" and other TV soundtracks; and Naomi Ruth Eisenberg (a.k.a. Naomi Vice) delivering an emotionally charged violin performance on "Obsessed," and formerly with Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks.

"Saints" received critical reviews throughout the US and radio airplay in the US, Canada and Europe.

2001 Acoustic Rainbow - Volume 10 - featured "Obsessed" from Saints

Photos

Bio

Marie Black Biography **

Exploring the edgier, noir side of acoustic driven rock, Marie Black's rich lyrical tales of existential, political and emotional groove dwellings have taken fans on exciting, thought provoking journeys far beyond the confines of San Francisco and Austin (her former hometowns) and Portland, Oregon, where she's built an enthusiastic following these past few years. Writing songs about love, loss, rape, despotism, healing, strength and hope, the multi-talented singer/songwriter whose latest album Water Me, is emerging this summer--has transported them from a starry desert night to a moonless night in the Tenderloin, where she's invited the curious to get in touch with their innermost longings.

The title of Water Me comes from an idea that famed psychologist James Hillman once called the "Acorn Theory," whereby a seed is planted in your heart and when it's allowed to grow, you become a whole, authentic person. Black's been on that journey since her days writing recording and performing in the Bay Area, when she released her first recording Saints under the name Marie Swan. While Saints received wide critical acclaim and airplay throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, the new 12 track collection (which concludes with an instrumental coda of the powerfully hypnotic title track) is a more intense and rocking musical experience that moves away somewhat from her youthful musings about love and chronicles her blossoming as a more social and reflective (and thus more universal) songwriter.

An explosive and compelling live performer, Black's vocal expression has left thousands of fans with that perfect mix of being on the edge of their seats while fighting back tears. SF Weekly once wrote, "Her sultry voice, smooth and sweet as honey, is a perfect foil for her bittersweet songs." When she lived and performed in Austin, Texas Beat made note of her "raw, powerful dynamic, silky smooth vocals." Steel guitarist Lloyd Mains spoke for a lot of folks when he simply observed, "She's the real thing."

That integrity has led her to become a mainstay at a wide variety of Portland venues over the past few years, including The Green Room, The White Eagle, The Red Room, Dante's Inferno, KJ's, The Bitter End, Nine Muses Acoustic Tavern, The Thirsty Lion, The Hawthorne Theatre and The Gotham Tavern. She's also played several Women Who Rock shows and a solstice fair and even an art gallery. Earlier in her career, she was a guest singer at Bobby McFerrin's Chant For World Peace, on the New Year's Eve preceding the impending first Iraq War. She also won several prominent songwriting contests, including Bay Area Music Referral for "Rude Boy," which featured Alex Weir of The Brothers Johnson and the Jonathan Demme/Talking Heads film "Stop Making Sense" on guitar. When she lived in Austin, Black was a celebrated performer at numerous of the city's clubs and also participated in many Women in Austin music showcases.

For listeners new to the dynamic and eclectic Black experience, the opening track "Drop Of Love" is a solid primer on the musical and lyrical goods she brings to the table. The somewhat folky but also edgy and rockin' song is the perfect amalgam of her compelling mix of styles, and the hopeful narrative is about finding a loving support system in your life that helps you survive and move forward. Black gets deeply personal at times--"Amphibian" is about the destructive abuse of power in religion, which she knows well because she was shunned from her religiously zealous family at age 16. "Hollywood Sage" foils a dark irony between lyrical sarcasm and a deceptively cheery melody; it's a semi-autobiographical account of having been an 18 year old girl from the cornfields of Pennsylvania who bussed it to L.A., where she found herself in a sleazy peripheral subculture of wannabes and dark stars. "Portland Rain" tackles political and personal experiences of deception, while "Stray Animals" is a playful look at the way Black seems to attract off the beaten path people who have good hearts underneath their somewhat counterculture leanings.