Marlon Williams - Make Way for Love LP (Ltd White Vinyl Edition)Dead Oceans
New Zealand's Marlon Williams has quite simply got one of the most extraordinary, effortlessly distinctive voices of his generation-a fact well known to fans of his first, self-titled solo album, and his captivating live shows. An otherworldly instrument with an affecting vibrato, it's a voice that’s earned repeated comparisons to the great Roy Orbison, and even briefly had Williams, in his youth, consider a career in classical singing, before realizing his temperament was more Stratocaster than Stradivarius.
But it's the art of songwriting that has bedeviled the artist, and into which he has grown exponentially on his second album, Make Way For Love, out in February of 2018. It's Marlon Williams like you’ve never heard him before-exploring new musical terrain and revealing himself in an unprecedented way, in the wake of a fractured relationship.
In early December, Williams and his longtime girlfriend, musician Aldous (Hannah) Harding, broke up. While personally wrenching, the split seemed to open the floodgates for Williams as a writer. "…I wrote about fifteen songs in a month," he recalls. Sure enough, while Make Way For Love draws on Williams' own story, in remarkably universal terms it captures the vagaries of relationships that we’ve all been through: he bliss (opener "Come To Me"); ache ("Love Is a Terrible Thing"); nagging questions ("Can I Call You"); and bitterness ("The Fire Of Love", whose lyrics Williams says he "agonized over" more than any). And there’s "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore", a duet with Harding, recorded after the two broke up, with Williams directing Harding's recording via a late-night long distance phone call. "We finally got to talk it out," he adds. "We still love each other very much."
If "breakup record" is a trope-and certainly it is-then Marlon Williams has done it proud. Like the best of the lot, Make Way For Love doesn’t shy away from heartbreak, but rather stares it in the face, and mines beauty from it.