Marshall/Peery Project. Life’s Too Short

The creative duo behind this band are guitarist ( multi instrumentalist actually) Kenny Marshall and lyricist Kevin W. Peery. An odd set up in Americana land as I can’t recall anyone else having this type of relationship (although I probably stand to be corrected). Indeed Elton John with Bernie Taupin and Procul Harum with Keith Reid are the only set ups that immediately come to mind although there are plenty of examples of occasional/semi regular gigs with The Dead and Robert Hunter coming to mind straightaway.

Anyway this is just so much Blabber so back to the band. Marshall/Peery have worked together for several years and this is their fourth release. The band is completed by the addition of Andy Oxman, guitars, Bryant Carter, guitars, vocals and Dave Jarman on drums. Marshall handle bass, banjo, dulcimer and various guitars. Together they have a fairly traditional take on a southern rock sound with lashings of slide guitar, occasional banjos poking through and on some songs the mighty fine gospel wailing of backing singer Tobbi White-Darks. nothing new here really as one can hear elements stretching back to The Band and the Allmans all the way up to the Drive By Truckers and Steve Earle. While there’s nothing here to rival the heights these forebears scaled there’s no doubt that Marshall/Peery are a tight little band and several of the songs here are fine examples of the genre.

The album opens with the very Southern slink that is the title track. Coiled guitars slide up and down while the vocals snarl and snap. What makes the song stand out however are Tobbi White-Darks (is that her real name?) backing vocals which recall Merry Clayton wailing away behind the Stones. An excellent opener its followed up by the arresting and brutal tale that is Country Justice. A banjo infused stomper with wicked slide guitar it relates the grim vigilante justice meted out to paedophile Ken McElroy in Skidmore, Missouri in the eighties. As told by the band it could be a tale from the frontier as sung by the Drive By Truckers and has a powerful brooding menace about it. They lighten the mood with the acoustic jaunt On This Farm but it’s back to the dark side with the pulp fiction of Bourbon, Women and Too Much Time with its atmospheric guitar and dark lyrics. There’s another fine slice of DBT chunkiness on Mr. Phelps which again benefits greatly from White-Darks’ voice
While the album opens strongly and maintains its momentum for the first three quarters of its playing time the two closing songs somewhat let it down merely by comparison to what came before. However “bonus” track, First Taste is a nice little acoustic romp that is almost hillbilly in its style.

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