Paul Mark & The Van Dorens tickle the ivories in the latest album Gravity, via Radiation Records. Highly amusing with some fun word play, the lyrics by no means overshadow exciting music orchestrations coming from an outstanding group of musicians. Gravity is heavy on the talent and light for the feat – bop along and sing-along to these crazy fun tunes.
Mark, a New York City-based artist, sings with gusto and drama behind the piano. His rotating top-notch players that make up The Van Dorens are equally impressive. Mark’s voice, raspy like Dr. John, but crisp like a traveling preacher. His voice would sound great in a small intimate setting, or in the biggest of arenas. Gravity has 12 tracks.
“Gravity Is Failing” starts out with this domino-toppling piano sound. Mark’s vocal delivery sounds like an old-timey soundtrack to a Nickelodeon, the five-cent movie theatres of the past. I loved how the keys sound dainty at times and bar parlor like in other moments. The keys seem to drop, coil around Mark’s fingers, then spool. Then, back up again. The lyrics “it’s a fact, gravity is failing, look about…you can’t miss the signs, observe how the fallen now rise with ease! and how ladders are so much easier to climb, everybody! hold fast, everybody! hold on here, tie your desk, your dog, your child, to a tree, else rue the day when they levitate and disappear,” had me glued to the story. Mark plays the song, singing along like he’s high above us in the clouds, giving us a play-by-play to the absurd state of affairs.
Some of the other highlights on Gravity include the sweet-lullaby track, “Forever” with is swooping orchestration. “I Spin You Grin” is a deliciously fun roar of a good time. The piano orchestration is toe-tappin’. The listener jaunts along jollying with Mark’s breathy, ashy chorus, “and I wonder what might happen, if you could just once call me ‘dear’, ‘cuz I spin – I spin, when you grin.” Visions of Disney-like cartoons, where Clarice blows a kiss to the blushing Chip and Dale, overcome the listener.
Mark flexes some blues guitar muscles in “The Next Fight” and goes on to serenade the listener with the royal organ sounds in the instrumental “Coronation”. It’s “Con Man VIP” that steals the show on Gravity. This politically-charged song is the stuff Arlo Guthrie started; Mark takes the baton and amplifies it with haunting, stealth atmospheric wang. “I’m a daddy-made millionaire, on a catch and kill spree, tin-pot titan spouting snake-oil repartee, look out mister, I’m a con man VIP, flimflam fingers four-flushing on the fly, it’s the art of the swindle and the craft of the denial, mirrors all around me, and mister I like what I see, my kids say they all love me but they lie worse than me,” the musician sings matter-of-factly. No mystery here, Gravity reflects an important voice in the music scene.
by Bethany Page