|Marc Martel's First Solo Record Stands Strong | Posted May 21, 2012
Canadian pop rockers Downhere have quietly built a very loyal fan base for their fresh and approachable music over the past 10 years, but none of the band members have had any real wide-scale exposure until just recently.
After dazzling YouTube viewers with his spot-on cover of Queen's famous hit "Somebody to Love," co-lead vocalist Marc Martel got himself some recognition that culminated in his being chosen as the lead vocalist for the official Queen Tribute band. The tribute band even delivered a well-received performance on American Idol.
The same week as Marc's performance on America's most-watched music program, Marc released a solo single, which is said to be from a forthcoming solo EP. Downhere's appeal has always been heavily reliant on the complementary vocals of its two lead vocalists. Thus, hearing Martel on his own promised to be an intriguing, if very different experience.
The single, "Up in the Air," introduces us to Marc Martel as a musician outside of both the familiarity of Downhere and his mind-blowing covers. One thing that is initially clear is that the lyrics are more mainstream than Downhere's, focusing on an infamous topic of music--relationships. Thus, Marc clearly used this opportunity to sing about a few things that probably wouldn't have fit thematically with a Downhere release. However, don't let that concern you.
Despite the mainstream topic, nothing in the song is remotely offensive. In fact, the message is actually relatable and even very wholesome, expressing the desire to not engage in frivolous relationships that are going nowhere. Musically, however, the song is very familiar to what we've come to expect from Marc Martel.
While there are clearly some stylistic changes from the usual Downhere fare, the song has a feel similar to hit songs like "My Last Amen." It's exactly the kind of upbeat pop with a slight edge that I'd expect from a Marc Martel solo recording. The bridge even features Marc soaring his vocals into the stratosphere in a moment sure to dazzle.
All in all, I enjoyed the single and eagerly anticipate the full EP. If these songs can help bring Marc's music to a wider audience, it's a celebratory moment. This single offers a great introduction to Marc's impressive musical chops for mainstream listeners.
Here's hoping that Marc's success lifts up Downhere with him rather than isolate him from the group. The industry is too creatively starved to let such a great band fade away. However, a well-done side project never hurt anybody, and this is just that. So for what this is, it's very good.
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