We had an opportunity to get advance access to Marshall's new album Layers, which drops June 21 and do an Artist Spotlight feature with him. The member of Walk off the Earth has developed unique sound for his solo project. Check out our track by track review of Layers and our interview with Marshall below!
Advance Review - Marshall - Layers
"Shadows" is a slow paced tune that has tinges of Bon Iver but touches of electronic to it. It makes for a unique sound that I certainly wasn't expecting when the track started. Vocally the performance is great, as Marshall shows off some great range on this one. There's a good bit of intentional autotune used on this, that I don't think was necessary, but it fit the electronic vibe Marshall was going for, so I get it. "Mr. Parachute" (feat. Jocelyn Alice) is another mostly alt-pop/electronic track, but Marshall's vocals are subdued at first. The use of the chorus in here reminds me of Imagine Dragons. I absolutely loved Jocelyn Alice's vocals and how they paired with Marshall's.
"I Could Be the One" is in the alt-pop realm as well. I absolutely loved the use of the piano and the hook on this one. The chorus just instantly gets you up when juxtaposed against the verses. "Culture" is another alt-pop song, it's definitely slower than the other tracks. I think that the autotune may have been a tinge too thick on the verses. I loved the choruses in this track though as Marshall displayed fantastic vocal ability and the beats fit perfectly with his vocals.
"Don't Fall When You Run" again features piano, a slowed down verse, and autotuned vocals on the verse (though they were much lighter this time). On "Four Years", I enjoyed the vocals, though they may have gone a little thick with the layering. There was an almost a call and response aspect to the verse I enjoyed. The hook was great, it had a great beat and was silky smooth.
"I Was on Your Side" was a song where I loved how Marshall played the narrative out. Musically, it was solid with a light beat. The vocals were the star of the show, especially in the verses. This is a fun alt-pop slow jam to move to. "Miss" slowed down verses which are accompanied by fantastic hooks. I loved the use of effects on the chorus. "Miss" sits again in the alt-pop genre, much like the rest of the album. Finally, "Maybe We Shouldn't Be Friends" features a good beat, solid vocals throughout, and it tells a story. It's a bit slowed down and primarily features Marshall's vocals. It is an interesting, yest solid conclusion to the album.
Closing Thoughts - Marshall features some great alt-pop in this album. Though I felt sometimes it was a little production heavy with autotune and layering of vocals, there was a lot to love here. It was a versatile album that evoked comps to Bon Iver and early Imagine Dragons in parts. Marshall has a great sense of melody and vocal combination as those were always synced up nicely. If you like alt-pop or are looking for something to move to, look no further.
Rating - 4/5
Artist Spotlight - Marshall
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I started on the baritone to what some call a euphonium, kind of like a mini tuba. I played that from grade 6 to the end of high school, then went on to university and picked up a guitar and started figuring it out instead of going to class. Couldn’t remember where I was in the guitar tab without singing along…so that began the singing…played some shows, started some bands and here we are."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing songs?
"I guess the most important piece of song writing for me is being in the right headspace. When I have that, then everything seems easy and the songs just kind of fall out of my brain. But when I don’t, there’s definitely a process I fall back on, but I’m saving that for my book so I can’t tell you my secret ;)"
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Bob Dylan and Neil Young are the reasons I picked up a guitar in the first place, but I would say a lot of the influence behind the Marshall project are artists like Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The Tallest Man on Earth, Ben Howard…stuff like that."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I bought a 1967 Epiphone Texan Acoustic Guitar once when I was in Seattle. It’s been my go to for all acoustic recordings for the last 4 years. Apparently, its the same model that they recorded “Hey Jude” with…either way, it’s the most beautiful acoustic sound I’ve been able to find."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about doing a live show?
"Well, that’s exactly what it is, it’s a vibe. You feel the music, it pulls you in and you either love it or hate it. There’s not really an in-between ;)"
"Being on stage and watching and hearing people enjoy music that I’ve written is the most rewarding part of performing for me."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
7. Anything upcoming you would like fans/our readers to know about?
"June 21 - New Album called LAYERS."