The Doc Marshalls (from the album Look Out, Compadre) - Look Out, Compadre sees The Doc Marshalls moving to a different audio plane. The former Brooklyn/NYC band has relocated its home base to Nashville, changing their sound as much as the spelling of their city/state on postage. "No Kind of Life" (2005) and "Honest for Once" (2008) stayed the course for The Doc Marshalls’ blend of honky tonk tunes that dance to a Cajun two step.
The mixture fueled their songs and helped build a solid rep as a live act. Look Out, Compadre avails itself of all things Roots. The heart of the album sound sticks closer to Americana’s warmth and twang with an Alt Country edge to its electric guitar.
The album opens with “Here They Come”, letting the natural feel and form of the track create a sonic movie the same way that the lyrics ready the story for a battle with a fast approaching enemy. “Light Rail” follows a fiddle that reminds us of The Doc Marshalls’ Cajun past, as the beat follows the click of the train that leaves small-town collateral damage down the tracks. “Days Will Slow Down” tunes its guitar to a Folk style, “Been Busy” sails under an Indie Rock flag, and “You Must Have Loved Me” takes to the floor for a spin with western swing.
The Doc Marshalls’ songs sound shift, but there is never a feeling that the end result is anything but a good fit for their catalog. The vocal ease of lead Marshall, Nick Beaudoing, is the common ground on Look Out, Compadre. His voice moves through the sadness of “Pennsylvania” with a tender understanding of its goodbye and is the soft spot amid a committed beat and guitar crunch of “When I Wake”, matching the story lines commitment to keep the words of last night fresh. “When I’m Leaving” is one of those songs that could easily overshadow its album mates. There is a story line that rings familiar and one liners that you can take away as your own. It is a tale of contemporary characters living in a tale that can trace its history back in time. Over a persistent rhythm and firefly hits of distorted guitar riffs, the tale spreads out all the reasons why this isn’t working but leaves the real answer unspoken. Sometimes you just can’t put into words just why your life needs to shake off the dust, and “Why I’m Leaving” stops short of “just because”.
The Doc Marshalls are a poster band for what American Roots has become. Groups that no longer stick to the sound that brought them together and provide full albums-worth of listening pleasure for their songs. Look Out, Compadre works as well for a road trip as a back yard gathering.