REVIEW: The Mark — Floating Downstream (LP)
With an eerie sound that recalls the darker works of Fleetwood Mac and The Killers, “Louisiana Voodoo” is an exciting slice of darkly dripped romance from the eclectic sounds of The Mark (ft. Tony Joe White). There’s a real chameleon-like magic at work as The Mark (Mark Schraven) and his incredible assortment of band members and Grammy winners take the tried and true concept of falling in love in a dangerous situation and breathes new life crafting one of the more memorable and exciting musical moments of this year so far.
A major fan of old school music and old school presentation (he cites only recently getting a smartphone and beginning modern music marketing as a turn to get with the times), his sound is startlingly modern while having a foot in a lot of the sounds of influential legacy acts like Creedance Clearwater and Elvis. There’s a refreshing unpretentiousness to Schraven’s approach to music and you can just tell it comes from an intensely passionate place and an above all else pure love for the art form of music, and it helps that the sounds he’s crafted are deeply engaging. The song has a real snakey quality thanks to the guitar and bass
compositions that make it sound noticeably dark as Schraven sings about getting ensnared in the love and potential lust of someone else, having gotten his wish (It begins with a line about him feeling like he’s standing in the wishing well, longing no doubt) and the dangers almost of getting what you asked for. It evokes feelings of ELO’s evil woman in a way, and with a more dark sound to accompany it as opposed to the bouncy upbeat sounds. Engineering on the track was handled by Darcy Proper, a notable Grammy Winner, and it’s easy to understand why. There are many components and subtle flourishes that adorn the track that give it a layered texture.
Schraven has a strong understanding of how to keep a song from going static and his usage of the accompanying instrumental and his hypnotic lyrics work seamlessly. Sometimes the song goes a little too abstract that the emotions described can feel a bit more generalized than say digging into the mental state of Schraven, who strikes me as a fascinating man given his age and his abundance of respect and work he’s poured into music. He’s played across Europe and the US from living rooms to soccer stadiums, and yet there’s an undoubtedly intimate quality that keeps things from feeling too emotionally distant.
The album’s a part of is a short and set fair, with no fat on it which is also applicable to the song. With a fantastic escalation built on the growing emotions of entrapment and potentially succumbing over to the feeling, he’s had stirred within him. There’s a lot more heft as the chorus begins to grow around him, enveloping him much like the person he sings about wrapping him in their proverbial arms. “Louisiana Voodoo” is a mystical piece of work that I highly recommend.