Marshall-Williams is imaginatively named after the band's two members — vocalist Brett Lee Williams and guitarist William Marshall Bogue. But if that Southern-esque band name for a Detroit-based band generates ideas of whiskey-soaked outlaw country or brawl-fueled cow-punk (as it initially did with this writer), then think again. Marshall-Williams play the sort of radio-friendly country rock that has kept Bon Jovi ticking more recently and has put Ty Stone on the cusp of national success.
Not that this is an insult; on the contrary, recent history proves the public will lap up commercial Americana written with the aid of tried and tested songwriting formulae (Nickelback being one of the most recent sickening successful example).
Marshall-Williams' debut EP contains six songs, any one of which could well be a Billboard-topping single. Each one is listenable, if slightly overproduced. But the musicianship is faultless and Williams' voice is perfectly suited to this style of music. The songs are as catchy as crabs ... but then, the same can be said of the New Kids on the Block.
The opening title track is a perfect example of the disposable nature of the record; it builds to a crashing chorus, yet the lyrics sound as if they've been cut and pasted from a multitude of classic rock and country standards. And "Can You Feel Me" is the obligatory power ballad, even if it evokes no feelings other than a fleeting déjà vu. Toward the song's end, when it slows to a soft, acoustic interlude before slamming in with the big finish, that nagging familiarity yells into your ear.
A lot of fans of the form will undoubtedly love this EP. Those who worship at the altar of Johnny Cash and his pissed-off life stories or Steve Earle's prison tales should look elsewhere.
Brett Callwood writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].