Someone recently described Marc Atkinson as the ‘man with the golden voice’.
Not a hint at the next Bond (though he is ably assisted on backing vocals by his very own Bond girl Tamsin Wonderland), but a very apt description of Marc’s silky vocals. Should you know Marc, he is more likely to don an overcoat, long knitted scarf and floppy hat rather than a Tuxedo. He may not have a licence to kill but could be quite handy with a sonic screwdriver.
On the latest album, Heart and Soul, you will not find any sudden surprises, though there are one or two new elements to Marc’s songs that enhance and move his sound forward.
With the music, lyrics and vocal harmonies masterminded by Marc, he has recruited a team that would give the Mission Impossible crew a run for their money, with agents Martin Ledger on guitar solos and additional guitars, Maurizio Fonacca driving the drums, Rob Fleming expertly handling the bass and regular sidekick Iain Jennings operating the keys and contributing assisted lyrics/vocals. The cover has been designed by the IT wizard on the team, daughter Enya.
Their mission, and they chose it, was to bring this album to fruition and successfully complete the task without it blowing up in their faces.
The album starts with a slow-burning fuse in the title track, Heart and Soul. The lyrics could be a personal message to an individual, but also describe what to expect from the rest of the CD. The heartfelt lyrics as always feel genuine, and whilst they are perfect for the track, I would have preferred one of the more up tempo numbers as an introduction and feel this may have been a good song to close the album.
Evading any traps with the first track, spies stand no chance as Marc can See Right Through You on the next. The song explores the open honesty of a loving relationship with no hidden codes here on this warm upbeat tune, enhanced by Iain Jennings keyboards.
When a relationship Changes, emotions get laid bare and sometimes attempts to repair the damage are difficult. If the rapture is to be recaptured, adjustments must be made and compromises found. Some nice guitar is reminiscent of quieter passages of Dire Straits in the solo from Martin Ledger, with beautiful harmonisation from Tamsin. Delicate and fragile, it can steal your heart.
Superheroes relish saving us from The End of the World, as evil despots seek to impress their dictatorship and will on others. Newsreaders peddle the latest stories of devastation as we helplessly watch footage of death and destruction. Who will rescue us? Can we rescues ourselves? Nations seem to be in never-ending battles to save us from ourselves. Subterfuge and intelligence are uncomfortable bedfellows as false information is a disguise and extraction of the truth proves difficult. If it is to end we can at least stand and face it with the ones we love.
The troubles often seem held at bay by The Way That You Love Me as Marc basks in the warmth of the sun, spirit lifted by birdsong, his heart swelled in the the knowledge he is loved, and for a while he can forget the cares and woes. A tribute to all our wonderful partners in this summery tune.
Relationships cannot be taken for granted as Marc flips the coin to sing of arguments that arise as tempers boil over, Burning Down the Effigies casting out the doubts and disagreements, looking at everything good in the relationship and realising you should stay together.
As children we have our dreams and fantasies, which sometimes get lost or pushed to the back of our minds. Some hold on to them and others feel they are not so important, but if one still holds the spark, they can Still Believe in You. As always, Marc sings with such sincerity that the song, like all the others, feels personal and heartfelt.
Personal and worldly worries surface on Gravity, as the pressure can get to you and keep you down. Marc manages to disarm, singing of struggles and a determination to pick yourself up and keep going whilst the music sounds quite upbeat, with another nice solo from Martin.
And now for the surprise on the album, a step away from reality with Has Anyone Seen Alice. Marc rarely steps into fantasy land and this is really rather pleasant, with excerpts of dialogue interspersed within the music and well written lyrics, bringing back fond memories of much loved track The Book, which he wrote for a previous album, around a fantasy story Tammy is working on. Personally, I would love to see Marc write songs like this more often.
The streets are not paved with gold, yet youngsters still seek out the bright lights of cities and towns looking for fame and fortune, only to find a cruel mistress of disappointment and master of fear and loneliness. Some leave due to problems at home, others just seek a perceived excitement and a better future. Some fall foul of life’s cruelties, as the girl in the next track, who just wants to get back to Her Home By the Sea. We never find out if she makes it, but we hope so.
On a brighter note (yes, irony), Before the Day the World Dies sees Marc asking how can we prevail against the possible prospect of nuclear extinction. If only love could conquer all…
On the album’s heaviest track, Marc rocks out as he advises those whose glass is half-empty that there could be better times to come and to Never Give Up, whilst the ebow gets an airing before a guitar solo crashes in and we all punch the sky, singing along to the chorus. It’s not often we hear Marc put the pedal to the metal and again it’s a nice change of pace with the rhythm section of Bob on bass and Maurizio on drums being allowed to flex their muscles a little more.
We are but a speck in the universe and it cares not for our problems, but how wonderful is music in all its forms, what better way to celebrate and marvel at life in The Dance of Light and Dark, the album’s final track, ending on a message of hope with some lovely laid-back licks.
As always, Marc sings from the heart and the lyrical content can at times reference personal, but also world wide situations, with genuine feeling. The musicians gathered around him make a good team, elevating the sound beyond just a solo singer/songwriter album.
More comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans than a dinner jacket, Marc’s songs may not leave you shaken but do stir and have the capability to make a hardened heart surrender, a lost soul become found and bring light to the world. If every agent of music and life were as capable, the world would be a better place. A fine collection of recommendable ballads and stories, if you have not heard Marc previously he is one of music’s great undercover agents, and as well as his solo output, he is involved in other band projects. Check him out and let’s bring his songs to light. Mission successful.
01. Heart & Soul (4:47)
02. See Right Through You (3:20)
03. Changes (4:55)
04. The End of the World (5:16)
05. The Way You Love Me (3:52)
06. Burning Down the Effigies (3:22)
07. Still Believe in You (4:11)
08. Gravity (3:45)
09. Have You Seen Alice (4:54)
10. Her Home By the Sea (6:47)
11. Before the Day the World Dies (4:26)
12. Never Give Up (5:08)
13. The Dance of Light and Dark (5:43)
Total Time – 60:18
Marc Atkinson – Vocals, Guitar, Ebow, Bass, Percussion, Keyboards
Martin Ledger – Additional Guitar & Guitar Solos (tracks 2-4 & 6-13)
Maurizio Fornacca – Drums (tracks 2,4,6,10 & 12)
Bob Fleming – Bass (tracks 2,4,6,10 & 12)
Iain Jennings – Keyboards (track 2)
Tamsin Wonderland – Backing Vocals (tracks 3 & 8)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 24th July 2023