By Stevie Connor.
“5am” has a melancholy feel, a bluesy ballad starting with soft electric spreads. Bex Marshall’s vocal is late-night and resigned.
The track is full of charismatic regret and her guitar playing is prominent, poignant, and emotive throughout. The song tells the story of a drunken late-night fight with a lover, culminating in a drunken white flag of emotional guitar peaks. It’s slightly influenced by Gary Moore hat doffing, to finish, no rock n roll endings akin to a melodic 5am pass-out. It makes for addictive listening.
Bex Marshall has a super abundance of smarts and edgy spirit to go along with her surety of purpose. She conjures a vocal melting pot of old black woman’s heartache and powerful gritty soul and unique guitar skills which have been labelled by other guitarists as “the goal. The long-awaited studio album Fortuna is a ten-track blues tapestry that bulges to the edges with addictive hooks and story lines. Bex is a writer of notability, she pushes the boundaries of blues and weaves the genre in and out of blues, funk, rock, and Americana.
Bex steps forward with this record as a leading female guitarist, producing her powerful, self-penned album with soaring lead lines, technical ragtime, and ballsy slide playing. It’s been ten years since Bex Marshall’s last release. During this time, Bex has experienced a busy touring schedule, independently breaking into several international markets. Fortuna is an intense culmination of focus and personal release over the last few years.
Bex was able to stand still for a moment and draw in local London talented friends including Richie Stevens on drums (Tina Turner, Simply Red, George Clinton), Toby Baker on keyboards (BB King, Eric Clapton, Alexander O’Neil, Sinead O Connor), B.J Cole on Dobro (Elton John, Coldplay, Sting, Shania Twain, Robbie Williams), New York's Robert Eugene Daniels on bass (RIP “Red Bass”) Aurora Mannola on bass, London's gospel Queen Shola Adegoroye, and legendary Danny Bryan on percussion (Taj Mahal).After a week-long intense recording session at Snakepit Studios in North London, Fortuna was created. It’s an album of soulful rock blues, with funky undertones with touches of gospel and roots.
The album was engineered, co-produced and mastered by Nick Hunt (Dave Stewart, Boy George, Placebo, George Clinton) who Bex has worked with on her previous album House of Mercy.
“I have been influenced by multiple artists,” says Bex. “For me it never stops. Songwriters, vocalists, and guitarists – you name it! I grew up listening to Tina Turner. Vocally, she was my heroine. Her tone, soul, and vocal range was so versatile. Other influences include Eric Clapton’s cool guitar style, John Lee Hooker’s back porch flavour, Freddie King’s sting, Hose Feliciano’s flair, Janis Joplin’s ragtime, and Elton John and Bernie Taupin's songwriting. I was lucky as my uncle had a stunning vinyl collection, and I was able to absorb all these relevant box ticking blues rock greats."
“She's mastered the art of making new material sound like it's been found in long forgotten vaults,” says Net Rhythms. Bex holds a songwriting retreat twice a year in Cyprus and believes that “bad songwriting is affecting the quality of our suffering.”
The album's lyrical content touches on the all too familiar addictions of life, from love to liquor, changes in society and bitter regret. The album features nine original tracks, one being an instrumental and one cover.
“The album is where I am today musically and philosophically and reflective of the performer I am now,” says Bex. “I wanted to take the hard lumps out of life, and present them back in a different light, sometimes with humor, sarcasm, or resilience but always with a shed load of tenacity. I wanted to make a record with iconic guitar sounds, heavenly funky keyboards, roots infected vocal lines with the funk in the trunk. The album is the most upbeat offering from me to date and I want to produce a show of high energy blues rock euphoria to reignite people’s mojos.”
During lockdown Bex’s good friend and bass player “Red Bass” (aka Robert Eugene Daniels) was living in London and after a few months sadly passed away. She was lucky enough to capture some of his bass lines in Snakepit Studios. Bex recorded demos for the album and finally used them in five of the 10 album tracks.
“Red was a unique musician,” reflects Bex. “I was honoured to play music with him for over 20 years. We even shared the same birthday. The final track of the record is called “When It's Gone” it’s a poignant song although written several years earlier, BJ Cole (Tiny Dancer, Coldplay) plays dobro on this track as a tribute to “Red.”
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