Album preview: Marlon Williams' self-titled debut

Marlon Williams
Marlon Williams' self-titled debut. (Album art)
Hello Miss Lonesome
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| 00:03:15
  • Hello Miss Lonesome 03:15
  • After All 03:11
  • Dark Child 05:23
  • I'm Lost Without You 05:15
  • Lonely Side of Her 02:24
  • Silent Passage 03:06
  • Strange Things 03:03
  • Everyone's Got Something to Say 02:47
  • When I Was A Young Girl 05:51

Marlon Williams' self-titled solo debut embraces a world of influences. Williams, a New Zealander of Maori and European descent, incorporates folk traditions of the Antipodes, North America and Europe, along with the vocal training he received as a youngster singing in school and church choirs.

Having performed with The Unfaithful Ways and having collaborated with country singer Delaney Davidson, Williams gained touring and recording experience — even winning the New Zealand Country Song and Country Album of the year in 2013 for his work with Davidson.

Williams decamped to Australia in 2013, where he cut his teeth as a solo performer in Melbourne's active live-music circuit. After returning to New Zealand, Williams began recording his nine-track solo album. "Each song is a character," Williams says. "I don't really ever sing out of character. Even if it's a very personal song, once it's written it doesn't belong to me."

The album, produced by Williams' longtime friend Bed Edwards, features a foot-stomping opener called "Hello Miss Lonesome," characterized by assertive guitar rhythms and lugubrious, sustained vocals by Williams.

Other tracks on the album, like "Everyone's Got Something to Say" and "Lonely Side of Her," bring out Williams' chops as a balladeer. Williams also explores some Bowie-esque gender ambiguity with his cover of "When I Was A Young Girl," previously covered by such artists as Nina Simone and Feist. "That's a real fun challenge," Williams says, "an exposition of how songs are personal and impersonal at the same time. I don't even think about [male or female]. Either that or I don't think of myself as a boy anymore! The version I knew was by Barbara Dane, a white San Francisco soul-folk singer from the '60s."

Marlon Williams has been nominated for five New Zealand Music Awards and an Australian ARIA Award. His self-titled solo album is likely to see this young New Zealander make his talent known the world over.

Marlon Williams releases in the U.S. on Feb. 19, 2016, via Dead Oceans.

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  • Marlon Williams
    Marlon Williams (Courtesy the artist/Justyn Strother)