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Album Review: Mark William COME CROON WITH ME Is Silky Smooth And Awfully Authentic

Crooning and Mark William go hand in hand, rather like dreams and technicolor.

Album Review: Mark William COME CROON WITH ME Is Silky Smooth And Awfully Authentic The first thing you think when you hear the sound of Mark William's voice is "Wow." No, truly: wow. It is very rare to have a voice, on first hearing, make you say wow, but that's the Mark William experience, one hundred percent. On his 2019 album COME CROON WITH ME (after a cute overture to let the listener know this is more of a cast album than a studio recording), Mr. William sings one sentence, and you know he has talent. When he gets to the second sentence you think you might have found today's equivalent to a time when the radio waves of the music industry were dominated by the likes of Henry Mancini, Shirley Bassey, and Jack Jones. The voice itself is so creamy and velvety that there was, clearly, no other choice for Mark William than to go into crooning. He's a natural, and he's in the hands of collaborators who have spotted his born-with abilities, and who have provided him with all the tools needed to achieve the artistic vision of his dreams.

Billed as orchestrator and arranger, Clint Edwards is behind the piano for Mark's album, but the entire band is something akin to the bands you see behind Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy, Barbara Stanwyck in Ball of Fire, or Liza Minnelli in New York New York. The band sounds magnificent, and Lou Holtzman has mixed and mastered the album with finesse and the ear of a technical artist who knows the importance of hearing each instrument, as long as they don't drown out the singer. The disc is an accomplishment that balances technique and artistry in ways that one wishes all albums were able to achieve - too bad they often cannot.

As far as the artistry of the crooner in question, Mr. William's dedication to his studies are showing... either that or he was born lucky because he has impeccable diction (especially on up-tempos, like a refreshing "Golden Rainbow") and a delightful sense of swing, not just in his rhythms, but in the little lilts and twists, flips and switches that he attempts, not only throughout, but within single notes - attempts and hits. It's easy to find oneself wishing for this kind of talent, so lovely is William's style and so lush is his voice. Mark takes the crooning part of Come Croon With Me seriously, investing every bit of his aesthetic into a generous collection of fast-paced numbers and jam-packed medleys (the album is medley-heavy but you won't be mad about it), but he is also game for a little tenderness, as observed in a genuinely sweet "Moon River" that is blissfully devoid of the changes and backflips that have been the tendency of some singers over the years, and even when the "Moon River" track turns into a medley, it actually works. It shouldn't, and, at first, it feels like it won't, but, surprise - it does.

What doesn't work (for this writer) is the medley of "Pure Imagination" that segues into "Over The Rainbow" - but it doesn't work for me because I don't care for up-tempo arrangements of the Judy Garland classic. That's my problem, it's not Mark William's problem, because he is an artist and artists are allowed (and should be allowed) to find the version of a song that lives within them. It would be a frightfully boring world if every singer sang every song the same way, if every Blanche Dubois did the Gray Boy speech the same way, if every production of A Chorus Line had the exact same choreography... Well, maybe that's not the best example... unless you think about how fun it would be to see a production of the Pulitzer Prize winning play with new dances and costumes, and when you do think about that, you, like me, will applaud Mark William for putting out a version of a legendary song that is all his own, one that stays true to his own artistic voice.

And it's a good voice - not just the creamy velvety one, the artistic voice that is the umbrella of Mark William's entire brand. You see, Mark is more than just a crooner, he is an accomplished musical theater actor, which is why he and his team took a few opportunities to show off more than just the cream and velvet. Observe the numbers that go against the concept of crooning, one from Grand Hotel that features a nod to Victor/Victoria (and some tap dancing), one from SMASH that tells the listener what is most resonant in Mark's heart, a desire to be a star. Then there are three bonus tracks straight out of the musical theater canon that demonstrate that Mark is ready and he is willing - it's just a question of which musical theater roles he will be assuming. Mark William will be playing those roles, too, no doubt, but when he's not, he will be perfectly at home on the nightclub stage and in the recording studio, whether belting, jazzing, or crooning.

Mark William COME CROON WITH ME is a 2019 release on the Yellow Sound label, available on all streaming platforms.

Mark William will play The Green Room 42 in TECHNICOLOR DREAMS on December 10th at 7 pm. Visit the Green Room 42 website for information and tickets HERE.

THIS is the Mark William website.

The COME CROON WITH ME BAND is Jonathan Ward on percussion and drums, Sam Zerna on bass, Jarnej Bervar on guitar, Josiah Lamb on trumpet, and Clint Edwards on piano.

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