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Melody Pool and Marlon Williams

Melody-Pool-(Photos-by-Rachael-Barrett)-1

Ellington Jazz Club

Tuesday August 27, 2014

 

At first you may think that the teaming of Melody Pool and Marlon Williams as touring partners would have gone together like vegemite and lamb, yet their different interpretations of the country records that they were exposed to growing up made for a complimentary experience by the two crooners.

New Zealander Marlon Williams has plenty in common with Justin Townes Earle. The lanky Williams has a similar build, familiar wardrobe, may frequent the same barber and most importantly has the knack for spinning a tale. It was known that Williams would be delivering a batch of alt. country tunes, but it was his choral background and ability to hold a note that was the big surprise packet.

The Tuesday night revelers were eating out of the palm of his hand as Williams’ between-song banter touched on topics such as diamonds, Kiwi history and stories from the road. Heaven For You showed that heartbreak was on the menu during Williams set, yet things got far more sinister when the rest of his set spoke of hospitals, shootings and infanticide. During an accomplished 45 minute set, Williams may have killed off at lease half of New Zealand in song.

Melody Pool was also playing her first shows in the West and was headlining due to the success of her critically acclaimed debut. Pool had some familiar faces in the crowd with her grandparents pulled into conversation throughout the set. There were a few firsts for Pool as she road tested some new songs as well as playing an electric guitar which she assured all she has never done before.

Pool may look like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but she can swear like a sailor when she feels the need. She insists that she didn’t even change the name of a former beau who she describes as ‘a dick’ during the caustic Henry. Pool’s controlled yet powerful voice has a hint of Stevie Nicks about it, which was best displayed on the sombre Royal Queen (Mary) and Open Book but it was the toe tapping The Hurting Scene that remains her strongest moment.

30-plus shows in a couple of months has obviously seen Pool and Williams bond over  the love of song. To celebrate, the two united on stage to run through half a dozen duets to finish the evening. As well as adding flavours to one of each others tunes, the pair put their mark on songs by The Everly Brothers and Leonard Cohen. It was a tidy finish to a polished night.

 

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

Melody Pool and Marlon Williams – Photo by Rachael Barrett