For those of you who are interested in discovering new musical talent, our good friend, Mark Austin, is a tried-and-true singer/composer. The Husband and I were invited to a live premiere of his first (all original) album, "Cool Water," where he not only played all of the songs from the album, but the backstories behind a few of them, which were nearly as entertaining as the songs themselves. The man is amazing. Absolutely amazing. I got to see him perform again in Annapolis when he went on tour with Janis Ian (of "At Seventeen" and "Society's Child" fame you recall) and he was an even bigger hit then. He specializes in acoustic guitar and his style is described as "contemporary folk." Honestly, I never realized I even liked contemporary folk until I heard his stuff (apparently my definition of folk varies greatly from how they use it now)--if that's what folk sounds like, then I love it. What I thought while listening to the various songs he's written was there's something for everyone here. He has such a wide range of styles and themes, which is certainly a nice break considering all the groups out there where every song of theirs sounds exactly the same (Maroon 5, I'm looking at you).
My favorite songs on his album (I like them all, but I listen to these the most) are:
- "Dandelions & Clover." Mark's wife Whitney (my walking buddy and a lovely woman in every way) says everyone loves this song. I believe it. It's about finding love in the midst of a little league ballgame. My favorite line is about "the outfielders picking dandelions and staring at the sky." That's about right.
- "Cool Water." When Mark and Whitney were in the process of courting, they went on a long road trip. On the way they decided to haul out all the skeletons in their closets, each trying to out-do the other (in shocking severity I'm assuming). This song, about one person accepting the other with all his faults and deficits, is a beautiful testament to the very definition of love.
- "Wish You Were Here." Mark said he wrote this after leaving Whitney to go overseas on one of his MANY work trips. The song itself, which isn't necessarily what you think, says it all.
- "Texas Summertime." I hear this song and I actually feel hot and humid, no joke. No. Freaking. Joke. But it's like what you'd expect a song about the Texas heat--and its subsequent relief--to sound like; it nearly drips with sweat. I love that it can do that.
- "Jacques Mathurin." I would never expect this kind of song on an album like this, but as I said, ther's something for everyone here. It's a song about a vengeful sailor who, centuries ago, was sold into slavery and longs to be free and to see his wife again. Haunting, compelling, and imaginative.
- "Yesterday's Wind." An upbeat song about the necessity of a wealthy youth coming into his own and not borrowing on his parents' success and wealth.
Give 'em a listen here: http://cdbaby.com/cd/markaustin. They're just clips of the songs, but enough to give you an idea. And if you like them, buy the album! I demand it! If you know me, you also know I wouldn't plug his stuff if I didn't love it.