Wednesday , July 24 2024
Bex Marshall

Music Review: Bex Marshall – ‘Fortuna’

It’s been more than a decade since blues-rock guitarist and singer Bex Marshall put out an album. The wait is over: Fortuna comes out March 1.

Out of the gate Marshall hits with an original bluesy mid-tempo soul number, “Preaching to the Choir.” Scrawled with her gritty Chicago-blues guitar work, it announces, as if in capital letters: I’M STILL HERE.

The slinky “Dirty Water” follows, showing her in a darker, subtler mode, reminiscent of some of the fiercer tracks on Bonnie Raitt’s 1990s comeback albums.

Backed by a band of great studio musicians, Marshall is in good voice. Her expressive vocals crackle with the years, while her guitar playing is if anything sharper than ever.

The album also highlights her songwriting: nine of the 10 tracks are originals.

“I Can’t Look You in the Eye” harks back to the foundational electric blues of Muddy Waters.

Marshall’s expressive guitar is the focus of the frenzied, Latin-tinged instrumental title track, while her fills and a tasteful solo take center stage on the soulful nighttime ballad “5AM,” which also features fine keyboard work from Toby Baker and bass playing from the late Robert Eugene Daniels.

A festive New Orleans beat and shadowy slide guitar make “Jungle” a high-energy high point.

As the album winds down, the tight blues-rocker “Lay Down N Die” gives way to country-blues for “Scrapyard Dog.” The latter puts me a little in mind of the roots stylings of John Hammond Jr.

Marshall saves for the end the heartfelt “When It’s Gone It’s Gone.” This tribute to Daniels is the album’s top track in pure songwriting terms. Despite sad lyrics, the music has a wide-open feel, as if to say: Whatever it is, it was all worth it.

It was indeed worth the wait for this new set from Bex Marshall. She’s been on the road a long time, mostly in the UK and Europe; now, symbolically in recorded form, she comes home.

Fortuna is out March 1, 2024. Pre-order here.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to our Music section, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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