Paul Mark and the Van Dorens return with Gravity, on their 11th and most astonishing release. But if an introduction is in order, they can all be found and purchased at the band’s website and shows. This is a great group led by a truly gifted singer/songwriter and all-around musician that captivated me from the first listen of the latest record. Gravity is an awesome album from head to toes, and the overall concept of it makes for a timely release that keeps up to the moment in its own peculiar ways. If it was not recorded that way on purpose, then it even makes Paul Mark shine all-the more. Kicking off with the fun lovingly told story of “Gravity Is Failing” which does well in describing what this whole stack of songs are about. You never lose the thread once you hear it and there’s no losing the plot anywhere along the line once the way he sings grabs your attention and doesn’t let go for the entire ride.
“Forever” follows with a piano ballad to contrast the first number and establish a more serious musical pattern which is then contrasted to more of a combo between the first two with “I Spin When You Grin” containing both elements. Up to this point is has mostly been Paul Mark showcasing himself, but “The Next Fight” starts to show more band participation with some strings starting to show up on another ballad, this one a lot more brooding. The song plays like a warning to keep things from escalating when they get heated, and the next number “Coronation” is an instrumental with a chamber feel to it backed by sirens in the atmosphere.
This leads into one of the more comical moments on “Con Man VIP” where he carries on about the game and how it is currently being played in Washington by describing what is not the most conventional politics. “Friend Gone Astray” comes in at just the right time with one of the better songs on offer, as it really can’t be flawed. And for more of the songwriting fun you get “You Can Take It With You,” as he brings more humor into the consistent bunch of songs. The album also switches up quite often and gets back to the narrative feel it started out with on “OTB” with more of a spoken word ballad that is rather nice as well. Said changes come on even stronger with a fantastic cover of “Heart Full Of Soul” by the Yardbirds, and what a compliment it pays to the original with an amazing semi acoustic version that just works in every way.
But that’s not all, there’s also the very Randy Newman meets Tom Waits sounding “Waiting Round For You” that hits home as one of the longer and better tracks. “December At The P.O.” closes with a winter post office homage to top everything off with another great number to write home about on a highly recommended new release.