13 tracks / 53:19
Singer and guitarist Marcus Lazarus has put in countless hours performing music that people love to hear, as he has participated in tribute bands that honored artists such as Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, The Blues Brothers, Status Quo, The Beatles, and Gary Moore. But back in 2013 he took a major step in making his own imprint on the music world when he cut his first original album. Marcus has taken the next step with his 2017 release, Save My Soul, and his sophomore album is nothing to sneeze at!
Marcus comes to us from Watford, UK, which is northwest of London. He lists his influences as Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Gary Moore, as you will hear this on his new CD (and I think you will be able to figure out a few more). Lazarus did most of the heavy lifting on Save My Soul: writing 12 of the 13 songs, taking on all of the vocals and guitars, playing most of the bass guitar parts, and programming all of the synth and drum tracks. He brought other musicians for a few of the songs, including Liam James Gray and Pete Thompson on drums, and Chris Gipson on the bass. I think you will agree that this is an ambitious project, and that Marcus did a good job with it!
This 53-minute set kicks off with “Why Should I Suffer,” a blues rocker with a melody that is partially lifted from Dylan / Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.” Lazarus has a pleasant tenor voice that is reminiscent of Eric Clapton, and his guitar work is very tight as it doubles up with the bass and synthesizer parts. A more traditional blues song, “I’m Tired,” follows this up and Marcus chooses to go a bit dirtier with his vocals on this one – he has an impressive array of vocal skills!
There is a bit of everything on this album. After a spooky intro, Marcus explores swamp rock with the title track, “Save My Soul,” and this slow grinder is quite hypnotic. There is also a cool 1970s style AOR song, “Reflection,” which would have been right at home on Robin Trower’s 1974 masterpiece, Bridge of Sighs. Then there is “Stolen Away,” which draws on Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler to inspire both the vocals and guitar work.
There are also a trio of songs that include Chris Gipson on bass and Pete Thompson on drums. Lazarus does a respectable job with the piano on “Women and Booze,” a hard-hitting boogie that fits in perfectly with this eclectic set. Things get fun with the chicken pickin’ on “Ain’t Nobody Beatin’ Down My Door,” which features the lead guitar of Shane Lamont over Thompson’s hard hitting snare. And Lazarus channels the melodic playing of the late Gary Moore on “Woke up in Soho,” which is one of the standout tracks on Save My Soul.
There is one cover tune on the disc, “Flight of the Surf Guitar,” which was originally done by The Atlantics, an Australian surf rock band. The funny thing is, Marcus’ version actually sounds more like classic 1960s surf rock than the original, with a traditional surf rock guitar tone and more appropriate drums. This is a cool instrumental, and a very unexpected inclusion from this English bluesman.
With Save My Soul, Marcus Lazarus pays homage to guitarists that influenced him, and the results are a nice collection of blues-inspired originals. It is cool that he has stretched his boundaries by moving beyond covers, and it will be awesome to see what he does next!