MAY 05, 2020
We rate it 8.1 / 9 • • • "Blooming!"
Author: NK
In Review: Marcus King Band - El Dorado...

El Dorado is the fourth full-length release from the up-and-coming southern blues-rock guitar prodigy Marcus King. I’ve been a rabid fan of all things Marcus King Band since they first showed up on my radar in 2017, so it’s going to be downright impossible for me to write an unbiased review of this album. At that time, with two albums under their belt released through Warren Haynes’ (Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule) record label, I never in my life would have guessed that the scorching guitar and smooth vocals were delivered by a 20 year old. The raw talent and intensity of the band’s sound stood in stark contrast to the baby faced kid with the guitar in all the pictures.

Perhaps it was the endless touring schedule, a change of record labels, or working with producer Dan Auerbach on El Dorado, but now 3 years, two albums and one EP later the band continues to deliver with all that same skill and an even more refined delivery. The raw talent that oozes from their early releases is still there, coursing underneath a new found maturity of sound and songwriting. Whatever you choose to blame, El Dorado comes off as the band’s most accessible record to date.

The record opens with the the quiet sound of King’s acoustic guitar accompanied only by his soft crooning vocal on the intro of Young Man’s Dream, which paints an autobiographical picture that persists through much of the record. In quick contrast to the opening track, the album immediately pivots to highlight the band’s heavy blues rock roots on The Well. These quick but seamless transitions between musical styles continue throughout the record, shifting from slow soulful blues crooners (Wildflowers & Wine; Beautiful Stranger; Break) to put-together radio singles (One Day She’s Here; Love Song) to upbeat country sounds (Sweet Mariona; Too Much Whiskey), and everything in between.

King flexes his guitar playing skills tastefully throughout, but overall this album is not the same guitar player’s wet dream of the band’s earlier releases. The bottomless shredding has been replaced by superb song writing and a distinct pop sensibility which ties the record together despite the myriad of musical styles on display. The quick musical shifts from song to song helps each track stand out in a memorable way, and keeps the album feeling fresh and energetic from start to finish.

As I said earlier, it would be nearly impossible for me to write an unbiased review of this record. Over the last three years I’ve seen The Marcus King Band perform no less than four times, and I can tell you that King and every member of his band are the real deal, tearing up stages and warming hearts with an honest southern charm and the easy smiles of a young band doing what they love. As an album, El Dorado showcases the tip of this band’s titanic iceberg of talent, and I’d encourage fans of the band to jump at the chance to see them live whenever that might be possible again. But until I get that chance again, this record will continue to spin.

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