|Marc Shows He Can Stand On His Own | Posted February 11, 2013
Thousand of us "Downhomies" were heartbroken, if not understanding, when Downhere announced their semi-retirement last year. But news of co-lead vocalist Marc Martel's solo EP had already been floating around for a few months, and so we at least had that to anticipate.
Since auditioning for and eventually winning the lead singer gig in the official Queen tribute band, Marc Martel has gained some popularity. It was only natural that he'd try and stretch his wings a bit with a solo project.
He gave us a taste last year with "Up in the Air."
That song is included here and leads nicely into what is an outstanding five-track pop collection, The Prelude EP
. (I have a separate review for the "Up in the AIr" that you can read here
.) The music is still very much what you'd expect from Marc Martel: soaring melodies to match his signature vocals, catchy beats, and honest lyrics. While Downhere fans will quickly miss the complementary effect Jason Germain brought to the music, Marc has proven that he can more than stand on his own.
One thing to note is that the songs here are "secular" in that they are about human relationships. But there is nothing objectionable about anything here. So there's really little to worry about.
The aforementioned track leads into the incredibly catchy "Our Love Remains" that you just know you're going to love from the opening notes. It's just an all-around great pop song. "Perfect World" follows with a laid-back Sunday afternoon feel to it. But it picks up as the song goes and is hardly a weak point on the album. By this point, I think it's clear that Marc is trying new things, and it's working out pretty well.
Next up is "8th Wonder" and darn if it isn't one of the most soaring and catchy choruses Marc Martel's belted out yet. It's just really fun to sing along to. Try it. You'll love it. "Believe" rounds out the EP with an accessible and enjoyable melody.
All of these songs are relationship-based and the lyrics are clever, if safe and a bit cheesy. ("I got so much love for you / you're the world's eighth wonder / undeniable miracle" or "Every cloud I see's a little bit heavier to me / now that I've seen it / every yesterday's a little bit further away / now that I've seen that perfect world.") However, none of it ever wanders into anything too bad.
Marc Martel has a knack for finding that perfect balance to keep a song poetic and beautiful without going too far. Marc's always been a master songwriter, and while his work with Downhere is lyrically superior, I think he's shown that he can write very well outside of his comfort zone.
One good thing about this EP is that it is likely to make you incredibly happy. Its joyful melodies are really uplifting and exciting. Marc Martel's got a voice that makes you believe every note he sings and carries songs effortlessly. It's hard not to get this good feeling when you listen to anything by Downhere, and this EP by Martel has a similar feeling (especially "8th Wonder"). This comes highly recommended for those dreary, rainy days.
Marc Martel has released a strong debut EP full of enjoyable pop melodies and strong and passionate vocals. There's really not a moment on the project that isn't pure gold. It might lack the spiritual depth of Downhere, but it's a positive alternative to the flawed secular pop genre. I'd put any of these songs against what's playing on mainstream radio any day. So sit back and enjoy. (And wait for the forthcoming full-length release.) This is music that deserves more attention than it's getting.
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