Marlon Williams + Archer @ Oxford Art Factory, Nov 15th 2017
With a career that continues to go from strength to strength, this was a key and fascinating moment to hear and see Marlon Williams perform songs from his forthcoming second album Make Way For Love, ahead of its February release.
Archer opened the evening with a set that consisted of him solo for the first half before he was joined by one half of Low Down Riders. With an old world voice that sounds magnificently parched and well-worn, he sang songs of experience and observation in a rustic, old word folk and country style before his guests added a fine New Orleans flavour to the songs.
Marlon Williams made his name with a grab-bag approach to roots music, taking folk and country, adding American Songbook croon and rock ’n’ roll elements with a modern indie aesthetic. Tonight, in previewing a bunch of songs from his next album, he showed he’s added more dark and melancholic balladry to that mix. There’s another level of atmosphere and shimmering mood to some of the songs. Sideman Dave Khan now adding electronics to his resume of guitar and violin, with no sign of mandolin on the stage.
The only songs played from his debut album were Dark Child and Lost Without You. The focus was firmly on the newer songs, many of which featured Williams on piano keyboard, a key factor in the compositional mood shift. Come To Me, What’s Chasing You, the new single Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore, the urgent, pulsing Party Boy, and closer Make Way For Love, which sounded like a modern take on the Maori singers of the 60s and 70s such as Howard Morrison, were all standouts.
Given the historic marriage equality results of the day, the atmosphere in the audience was a celebratory one, less-reserved than Sydney audiences can often be. It made for a singular vibe in the room and the response to the new songs clearly resonated with Williams. This was an assured and refreshing performance from an artist clearly forging his own path with confidence and clarity.