Blood & Treasure
Paul Mark & the Van Dorens
Paul Mark is not a familiar name even though his latest release is his seventh on his Radiation Records label. Recorded in Memphis, Mark expertly mixing blues, rock, rockabilly and soul influences on ten original songs to create solid package of American roots music. He handles the vocals, harmonica and guitar parts as well as piano on three cuts. The Van Dorens are James Strain on bass, Harry Peel on drums and Rick Steff on Hammond organ.
The disc bursts out of the gate with “Everything is Nothing”, an engaging rocker fueled by Mark’s driving guitar and Steff’s swirling organ chords. The band switches to a deep soul groove on “Don’t Get Me Started” with Susan Marshall and Jackie Johnson providing excellent vocal support. Mark turns in a strong vocal that captures the anguish of a lost love. Then it’s on to the blues as Steff sets the mood on organ before Mark’s raw vocal tells the sad tale of “Perp Walk”.
Mark injects plenty of humor into the collection. “Lotta Things to Say” is another up-tempo romp that finds the singer bemoaning “ I speak my mind but my mind’s always running away!” Even better is the dead-on description of the aftermath of a misspent evening of drinking and pleasure that results in a day-after to forget on “I’m Still High.”
Steff supplies some fine barrelhouse piano and Mark blows some mournful harp licks.
The closing instrumental track, “Ruf House”, serves as a showcase for Mark’s formidable talent on guitar.
Mark has a musical vision that extends far beyond his home in New York City. His songwriting ably blends a critical view of life with irreverent humor to provide a spark to each track. The Van Dorens easily handle the stylistic shifts, providing solid backing at every turn. Mark has the vocal chops to handle the range of material and his guitar work elevates the proceedings without dominating. This release should gain some well-deserved attention for the talented Paul Mark.