Blood & Spirits is Brian Marquis’ sophomore album but his first since signing with Equal Vision Records. In an interview back in February, Marquis explained that writing this record was a form of therapy. After being struck by lightning on Warped Tour 2013, getting sent home sent Marquis into an emotionally dark place. Brian had been on top of his game — managing the Acoustic Basement stage for the third year, performing on that stage and being “dad” to the residents of Bus #22. After riding so high, coming home and having to contend with the physical after-effects of the accident hit him hard. However, Marquis dug into his strong New England spirit and all the success he had achieved. Blood & Spirits is about facing the “ghosts” and continuing to follow his passions.
This album is raw feeling from beginning to end. It is filled with defiance, determination, righteous anger, strength and new-found courage. It draws from Marquis punk soul. It has all the grit from every dive venue he has played over the years. This is the music of any blue-collar Boston bar. And yet, it is also filled with all of Brian’s charm, warm eyed smiles, a wink and a nod in musical form.
Sit down with a ‘Gansett tall-boy and a bowl of unshelled peanuts for this record. Be prepared for the journey it will take you on. Marquis is sharing things that are deeply personal. He takes you from brokeness to health; physically, emotionally and spiritually. It can be an inspiration to those dealing with their own demons.
Be ready to, literally, laugh out loud all through “From Boston”. Admittedly it takes a New Englander to understand “We all hate Neil but we all love ‘Sweet Caroline’” but that’s not saying that the song isn’t relatable to everyone. “Hem & Haw” is full of railroad hobo, country goodness. On more than one track, Brian does not give himself time constraints. They are not within radio limits but these are too good for radio anyway. Really outstanding songs for this reviewer are “Burn The Bridge, Swim The River” and “Highway And Heartache”.
The recorded versions of all the songs are dressed up in their Sunday-best; a brand-new pair of Levis, a button-up plaid shirt that actually got hung-up out of the dryer and a pair of leather shoes. It is a great way to introduce Brian to new faces and ears. But once they have become fans, then it’s time to go hear them in a pair of beat-up Lee’s, a “Movie Life” t-shirt that has faded from black to dusty gray and a pair of Chucks that are on their last legs on a sweaty summer stage not only to just listen but to actually feel these songs.
Blood & Spirits is available May 13.
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