Ben Mallott & Chris Marshall
Tickets: $13 advance, $15 at the door.
Roots formed in old standards, a juvenile heart, and his mothers Ray Charles albums, Austins Ben Mallott uses his grainy timbre to remove the punctuation between singer and songwriter.
For his first solo release, Look Good, Feel Good, Mallotts songs range from sentimental to sad to what he calls unpredictably genuine. A songwriter who admits his journeys have taken him from window seats to bathroom floors, he sticks to what works and in turn churns out his distinctive brand of Americana confession.
I'm strange about where and when I write, Mallott explains. I try not to move my residence too often, because it usually takes a couple of months for me to find the place in the house that sounds and feels right. Where I live now, I stand about six inches from the back door and sing into it. It didn't take me long to have a glass door installed.
Personal as they are, Mallott confesses that his songs don't distinguish between the literal and metaphorical. A blend of Americana heart and soul, each are shrouded in a little mystery to both the listener and the creator.
I dont know what they mean to me. I think if I really ever figured that out, Id have to stop writing. I love the art of songwriting. I love the struggle involved. The songs are just windows. Some let in more light than others.
Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Chris Marshall followed a fairly typical adolescent path. He found his moms acoustic guitar, taughthimself to play, then worked his way into what he calls many short-lived punk, hardcore and emo bands. He also honed his skills by playing in the church his dad founded when he was 14.
Then Marshall discovered the gospel of Willie and Johnnyas in Nelson and Cashand the spirit of Elvis, as well as the poetic and literary influences that infuse the thoughtful songwriting found on his new EP, Starting Out.
The five-song collection is an exploration of life experiences: physical and metaphysical journeys, passion, pain, friendship, faith. Its the work of a man who found his songwriting voice when he unlatched his cerebral cortex from the process and engaged his heart instead.
I tried so hard in the beginning to write songs that would honor the tradition of the artists I admire, namely songwriters like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, Marshall admits. They possessed such an unaffected, uncomplicated writing style. His own lyrics frustrated him at first because they werent as simple and clearcut. But once he let go of expectations that he should write or sound a certain way, Marshall freed his muse and let in all of his influences, including writers and philosophers like Walt Whitman, C.S. Lewis and Soren Kierkegaard, as well as musical icons like Dylan and Kristofferson.
In the process, hes developed a sound he describes as uniquely American.
My generation seems interested in redefining what it means to be a member of the American musical heritage, he explains. That is precisely what I am doing with my work: borrowing and borrowing until we find something new.
Empty Sea Studios
6300 Phinney Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|