The 18 songs on this double CD are variously original, traditional, tender, quirky, emotional and wise. There's backporch country, barroom weepers, clapboard-church gospel, haunting folk, dusty blues and songs for which a genre's not yet been named. On some of them Marvin goes it alone; a multi-instrumentalist, he plays mandolin, mandocello, guitar, bass, piano, Mellotron, porchboard and keyboards. Others feature a distinguished cast of guests - including duets with Lucinda Williams (a heart-wrenching Lay It On The Table), Steve Earle (Ain't No Work In Mississippi), Richard Thompson (It Don't Cost Much), Buddy Miller (Living Like A Hobo), John Doe (The Grapes Of Wrath), Maria McKee (You Possess Me) and The Dixie Hummingbirds, who add their uplifting harmonies to You Are The Light, a reprise of the Americana classic Etzioni wrote for Lone Justice's acclaimed 1985 debut. Some are born to country. Some, like Marvin, have country thrust upon them - in the form of the mandolin his grandfather, a country music -loving Polish Jew, gave him when he was eight years old.
More than four decades later, the Mandolin Man, as he was now known, had Keith Richards autograph it when they played together in the Sin City All Stars band at a tribute to Gram Parsons. Born in Brooklyn and raised in L.A, Marvin formed his first band The Model in 1976; Bruce Springsteen's producer Chuck Plotkin was among its fans. But Marvin took another direction, becoming a solo acoustic singer-songwriter - this in the early '80s when everyone played synth pop or heavy metal - before, mid-decade, co-founding Lone Justice with Mara McKee. Musical differences had him setting off on his own path again. Marvin became a record producer (Toad the Wet Sprocket; Peter Case; Counting Crows; Grammy-winning Grey DeLisle), a collaborator (Maria McKee; Victoria Williams; The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs), a sideman (T-Bone Burnett; The Dixie Chicks), a song-writer (Rachel Sweet; Voice Of The Beehive; Jimmy Barnes; The Williams Brothers) and a soundtrack composer ('The Mediocre Samaritan'). In the '90s Marvin released three solo albums, The Mandolin Man (1991), Bone (1992) and Weapons Of The Spirit (1994), which were lavished with praise by the press. And now at last he's back, with Marvin Country, an album full of ghosts and full of life, and with songs inspired by faith, love, hope, Depression, Dylan, Kurt Vonnegutå and Harry Teitelbaum, Marvin's grandfather, to whom the album's dedicated.
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