Rotterdam's Marvin Dee Band have called their latest album 'Changes' because it represents a new beginning for them. Whilst they musically embark on a new era with several personnel changes; the lyrical make-up of the album suggests a number of personal changes are also afoot. The lyrical content can be attributed to chief song-writer Marvin Dee, but the line-up behind Marvin has bolstered the bands ranks, notably the guitars (Age Kat), horns (Ben Rodenberg) and strings (Myrthe van de Weetering) that so perfectly help deliver Marvin's songs.
The opening two tracks use metaphorical lyricism such as weathering the storms of life and awaiting the sunshine and appear mainly focused on a relationship. It is here we become acquainted with the classic and expansive guitar playing and flecks of saxophone.The next couple of songs have more acoustic feel. ‘Little Boy’ is a ballad about parenthood backed by sweet harmonics and sweeps of strings. Then ‘Step Back’ poses a series of soul-searching questions and grows in scope, becoming ever more layered to finish. Unlike its two predecessors, ‘Solid’ starts big, driven by heavy pounding drums and climaxing in multi-vocal chanting, it leaves a yearning feeling alone and has a celebratory feel. The strong melody and clever key changes of ‘OK’ make it one of my favourites. Sat alongside, ‘Solid’ it's life-affirming message seems to be of finding fulfillment through connecting with nature. ‘OK’s unplugged feel is ended by the thunderous show-stopper ‘Proud’ which is unlike anything on the album with it's quiet/loud dynamic and haunting distant harmonica. ‘Harder’ addresses Dee's Mother's illness and it's impact of the family over piano and sophisticated orchestration. It is a powerful moment and builds to an epic finish as the songs on this album typically do. It has great gravitas. The second of my personal favourites follows, ‘Hungry’ and I like it due to its sweet and innocent-eyed nature. Next single, ‘Sweetlake City’ then manages to continue quite an optimistic feeling, despite its theme of wanting to escape small-time life, working for someone else and "live a little more". Finally, the closing song ‘Waking Up’ sounds a little unsettled compared to earlier empowering songs, with it's talk of "the sirens in my head". Dee delivers his final impassioned chorus and lung-busting chorus.
Whilst musically quite straight-ahead, traditional rock, lyrically ‘Changes’ is both philosophical and honest. Dee is reflecting on his life and asking himself some of the bigger questions. The songs here take a deep look at relationships, family and self. ‘Changes’ is a personal, biographical account of the time it was written and this is it's greatest strength.
3 Hooks out of 5
Written By Matt Nicholson