Published on 15th February 2019
Rhys Marsh – October After All
Further to Rhys Marsh’s late 2018 announcement that he has signed to Karisma Records, I’m pleased to be able to take on this review.
His last album, The Black Sun Shining, was spontaneous, visceral music. Rhys returns to a more structured approach with a third solo album that is a polished and honed collection of songs.
Rhys has his own style, both in writing and in the way he sings. There’s an almost tangible Britishness about it (he’s a Londoner, based in Trondheim, Norway). There is an undeniable maturity to the composition and performance. Given that we don’t yet have time travel I can imagine Rhys stepping in as Scott Walker’s understudy during the more accessible Walker Brothers period. On the surface, Rhys’s vocal style would have slotted in perfectly with bands from the Big Band era. His albums would sit equally well with the Progressive Rock bands or the more art-rock orientated artists of the seventies. My Mum would have liked this music, and that’s a compliment. October After All, in fact any of his solo albums, would look quite at home on the LP shelf with the likes of Mum’s Jack Jones or Andy Williams LPs, but it would also be in the company of Stravinsky and Bizet.
Having said all that, think more “Thin White Duke” than “Old Blue Eyes”. Let me be clear: this is not an anachronistic album filled with the thin strings and heavy-handed reverb favoured by the big producers of the past, neither does it appear to be progressive rock inspired by classical music. The production values have a most contemporary ambience. The music of Rhys Marsh simply echoes the essence of that era and in truth it sits comfortably, for me, with modern rock.
Soaring guitars, saxophones and Mellotrons with layered vocal harmonies are all tools Rhys has used to build positively orchestral sounds. Rhys clearly has no issue with using synthesizer sounds that could be considered old fashioned. The mix of Mini-Moog (The Summer Days) and slide guitar (Let It Be Known!) would be well at home in the palette of many bands from the early to mid-seventies. Despite being adept at harmonies, Rhys Marsh’s distinctive crooning voice is, sometimes, just naked and out there with no overdubs. He’s carefully chosen where to do this, resulting in an album that is intimate in places and lush throughout.
Multi-instrumentalist Rhys has covered most of the bases, with help from Kåre Kolve on saxophone, trumpeter Arve Henriksen and a choir which includes Rohey, Silje Leirvik, Anders Bjermeland and Tim Bowness. To fill up a Long Player with nothing but an orchestral/choral bombardment would become tiresome and so, elsewhere on the album, Rhys pulls it all back, going solo at the beginning of One Hundred Memories, as if to illustrate my point from the previous paragraph, accompanying his rich, timbred baritone voice with nothing but Fender Rhodes, using this as the foundation of this laid-back, reflective song in strong contrast to tracks like the aforementioned Let It Be Known.
I think the song I most enjoy is ’22’. It just has a rich, warm, relaxed feel. The muted brass solo instrument wraps up the song and cuddles it to fade out, making way for the track that lends its name, in part, to the climax of the album.
These songs are tinged with melancholy, yet paradoxically uplifting. October After All is concise and arguably more purposeful than previous works. Where some of Rhys Marsh’s albums have been bursting to the seams with varied instrumentation, it would seem in October After All, if he hadn’t already done so, Rhys Marsh has found his sound.
01. River (3:47)
02. Long Way Back (3:47)
03. Golden Lullabies (5:40)
04. Ride The New Wave (5:17)
05. The Butterflies (4:33)
06. Let It Be Known! (3:30)
07. One Hundred Memories (4:05)
08. The Summer Days (4:57)
09. ‘22’ (3:41)
10. (It will be) Summer After All (7:16)
Total Time – 46:33
Rhys Marsh – Vocals, Most Instruments & Production
Arve Henriksen – Trumpet
Kåre Kolve – Saxophone
Rohey Taalah, Silje Leirvik, Anders Bjermeland, Ole Kristian Malmedal, Vilde Aakre Lie, Tale Vang Ellefsen, Arve Henriksen & Tim Bowness – Choral Vocals
Tale Vang Ellefsen
Record Label: Karisma Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 22nd February 2019