by Matt Kelchner
With a new album in hand, Charlie Mars stops by the Keswick Theatre for back-to-back shows starting tonight. For both nights he’ll be opening for Tedeschi Trucks Band. Mars is touring behind his latest release Blackberry Light. The album came out in mid-August and features the Mississippi singer/songwriter’s signature backwoods-infused, hook-laden songwriting at it’s finest.
Blackberry Light is Mars’ first since his 2009 breakout album Like A Bird, Like A Plane. “I wanted it to be great,” Mars comments on the pressure while writing his latest record, “and I wanted people to like it so I could eat and have a bed. The pressure to survive is a great motivator.”
To help with the new songs, Mars compiled an impressive list of everything from guitarists to drummers and everything in between. Previous album credits for the added guests include the likes of Fiona Apple, Santana and Brooks & Dunn. One of his other collaborators, Tedeschi Trucks Band drummer/percussionist JJ Johnson also served as inspiration for Mars and Blackberry Light, “[t]he sound of JJ Johnson’s kick drum is a pretty rad influence.”
With his laid back songwriting and smooth voice, Mars puts together an excellent collection of songs for Blackberry Light that covers a vast dynamic range. “Nothing But The Rain” is a soft, somber tune that shows the beauty in minimalism. Other songs like “Let The Meter Roll” and “Picture Of An Island” have a more upbeat, moving feel to act as a good contrast. The pinnacle comes with the album’s second track “How I Roll”. It features dirty, southern beat highlighted by a great organ and guitar parts. Mars adds the perfect amount of poppy hooks that will not leave your head.
Overall, Blackberry Light is a clever mix of sunny folk, Nashville pop with Mars’ own southern edge. One of the most intriguing aspects of the album is Mars’ ability to create such sprawling melodies within his songs given their general minimalist nature. With the release of the album, it was also Charlie Mars’ return to his own Rockingham Records label. Named after the street his parents live on, Blackberry Light is the first record Mars has put out on the label since 1999’s End Of Romance.
Charlie Mars and his band play the first of two shows tonight in support of Tedeschi Trucks Band tonight at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA. Tickets are sold out for it but are still available for tomorrow’s show. The price ranges from $39.50-$65. Doors for each night open at 7:30 pm.
With such a solid, complete album in Blackberry Light, Charlie Mars is an act not to be missed. Come out and see him bring his Mississippi blend of folk, country and pop live!