Saturday, February 3, 2024

Jeshua Marshall: “The Flood” (2023) CD Review

Jeshua Marshall is a singer and songwriter based in Bend, Oregon, and known for his work in Larry And His Flask, a group he started with his brother Jamin more than twenty years ago. He released his first solo album, Shoot The Moon, in 2021, and followed that with The Flood last fall. The Flood features mostly original material. Joining him on this release are Davey Hemm on bass, Miguel Mendoza on trumpet, Seth Acquarolo on guitar and keys, Wendi Wampler on clarinet, and Todd Rosenberg on drums and vocals, along with a guest on one track.

The album opens with a cover of “Knights Ferry,” a song from Willy Tea Taylor’s The Great Western Hangover, and here re-titled “Water.” The song’s first lines delighted me to the point where I laughed out loud the first time I listened to this disc: “There’s a town on the river/It might make you lose your liver.” Jeshua Marshall and his band put their own spin on the song, speeding it up a bit and giving it a delicious funky groove, and adding horns, making it a good song to dance to. There are even hand claps. I’m totally digging this approach. Everything about it is working well, particularly those short jams, featuring great stuff on trumpet and clarinet. There is also a good lead on electric guitar. And before the end, you might find yourself singing along with the chorus: “Oh, in the water/Deep down in the water/Yes, it’s in the water/Falling down.” That’s followed by the album’s title track, “The Flood,” which has a ska groove and features more great stuff on trumpet. And I love that opening line, “How’d you like a new tomorrow.” It’s a positive number, feeling almost like a strange celebration, particularly as he sings, “We live for love, and we don’t give up.” Toward the end he repeats, “I’m in love with the underground.”

The sound turns gentle at the beginning of “In A Dream,” and then builds from there and features a great bass line. “I’ll wait for you/In a dream/See what comes next/So what if we have nothing left/We gave it all, we gave it all.” This one also continues with the album’s water images, as he sings, “Underneath the sea/I’ll wait for you.” That’s followed by “Unbound,” a song that grabs me almost immediately, the moment the drums come in. What a great rhythm! This track also features some nice work on guitar. Check out these opening lines: “Away from the bright city lights/Where the blue moon and stars collide/Take it, take it all away/One billion distractions/With zero satisfaction.” Excellent, right? This is such an enjoyable song, and one I’m guessing many folks will relate to. It’s one of my personal favorites.

“Agua Es Vida” features lyrics by Yanin Saavedra, who joins Jeshua Marshall on vocals. This one has a reggae vibe, and it continues the album’s theme of water. “Agua es vida, agua es vida/She gives you what you need/We’re taking too much.” Yanin’s vocal work is sexy and compelling, helping to make this another of the album’s highlights. Then “Closed Doors” comes at us at a fast pace, with some punk elements, and the lyrics delivered with a sense of urgency. “Rise above the anger and hatred/We never give up, we never give in.” This music is so good. I would say this track is yet another highlight, but the idea of a highlight begins to lose its meaning when every track is excellent, when every track feels like a highlight. “Ride” begins with a good rhythm, and is another fast-paced gem, but with more country in its sound. And here is some honesty delivered to the next generation: “Nothing lasts forever, my son/Except the earth, the sky and the sea/Nothing lasts forever, young one/Especially you and me/Even mountains fall to the sea/Even mountains will fall eventually.” And again there is a mention of water in those lines. This track contains a nice lead on keys in the middle. “Hearts can only break so many times/Before they fade away.”

“Best Friend” is a song that celebrates true friendship, though first mentioning those fair-weather friends. This is an exciting song with a dramatic quality. It also touches upon the brevity of life in the line “No, I ain’t got no more time to waste.” Life is too short to spend it with anyone we don’t like, with anyone who is not genuine. Check out that great guitar work toward the end, along with the trumpet. This track has a sudden ending, and is followed by “Swing,” a seriously fun track. “Swing, swing, I like to swing/I swing all day and night.” It’s another one to fill the dance floor with happy bodies. And it does include a water-related image in the lines “With the rising tide/I thought I’d be on my way.” As this song reaches its conclusion, the pace picks up. Jeshua Marshall then slows things down for “Wave,” which has a cool, bluesy vibe as it starts. Then that trumpet sounds so damn good as the song takes on a delightful rhythm. You don’t have to wait very long for images of water, as the first lines are “Come in from the storm/It’s raining so damn hard now.” And I appreciate the song’s sweet and hopeful ending, with Jeshua Marshall singing “I’ll leave a light on for you/I’ll leave a light on.”

CD Track List

  1. Water
  2. The Flood
  3. In A Dream
  4. Unbound
  5. Agua Es Vida
  6. Closed Doors
  7. Ride
  8. Best Friend
  9. Swing
  10. Wave

The Flood was released on September 22, 2023.

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