Black Music Matters Festival

The Doc Marshalls

Honest For Once – 2008 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Steven Freedman

CDs by The Doc Marshalls

If variety is the spice of life, then the Doc Marshalls serve up a heaping plateful of it on their second CD. This is a band that pulls no punches with affecting lyrics and being instrumentally tight. Headed up by chief songwriter and lead vocalist Nicholas Beaudoing and ably backed by Mat Kane who sizzles on fiddle, drummer Doug Clark, lead guitarist Matt Walsh and bassist Terrence Murren, these New Yorkers take no prisoners.

What sets them apart is their penchant for taking commonplace subtexts and giving them a new twist. For instance, the love songs are anything but sappy and range in emotion from the rancor on "Worst of Both Words" to the pungent despair of "Word Gets Around" where Beaudoing laments: "I fell down hard, you missed it. Things got so dim and twisted. Maybe it's time you took me back." The Cajun-induced wonderments of "Port Barre Stomp" and "Deaux Bouteilles" are virtual tours of bayou country. Even the Eagles-like "Ticket Out of Texas" is a real foot-stomper. Suffice it to say, this is one ambidextrous group in that they are at ease doing all types of music and doing it well.