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COLE is the eponymous debut release from Mark Cole and features original songs across the variety of musical styles that he performs in.

The eleven track album not only highlights his flair as a songwriter (one track, ‘Let Me Down’, achieving a runner-up place in the globally recognized American Songwriter magazine's lyrics competition) but also as a multi-instrumentalist, as Mark plays nearly all of the instruments on the recordings.

The songs range in mood and subject from the full-on power of 'Desiccate Me Baby', 'Bon Ton Boy' and 'Out On A Saturday Night' to the soulful 'Solitary', the quirky 'Let Me Down' and 'Misprint Formica', the melancholy 'Had Our Day', the North Mississippi influenced groove of 'Honeyslide', the cautionary 'Love Will Make You Blind', the human tragedy of 'Water Will Rise' and the reflective, Mexican influenced 'Banus Rain'.  Inspired by traditional music styles of the Deep South it's sometimes visceral and hypnotic, sometimes contemplative and always emotional. It's music grown in the dark, damp soil that hides deep under the roots of the tree of life, created to get under the skin and into the heart and mind of the listener.

You'll hear some of the songs performed live by Mark at various solo, duo and band appearances.

Preview the album to the left, buy the CD from the Store

Click here to open/download the digital booklet for the album which has the lyrics, recording credits and other information. 

Quotes

"Everything here just drips with a heart felt compassion for the music. You need this CD, trust me."
Greg "Bluesdog" Szalony, Blues Blast Magazine, Oct 2018

"Superb album"
Harry Simpson, DJ on "Still Got The Blues", Zetland 105FM

"Excellent new solo album from Mark Cole"
Kevin Beale, DJ on "Blues on the Marsh"

"It's a mighty fine album throughout... track by track there's something new and fresh to enjoy"
Pete Clack, Blues in Britain magazine, Issue 200, August 2018

"This an album of pure pleasure... If you like non-standard blues with a lyrical musical punch, you will not be disappointed."
Tom Dixon, Bluesdoodles.com

"An album that refuses to go where you think it might and a minor treasure for that reason alone"
Pete Sargeant, Blues matters! issue 104, Oct/Nov 2018

 


 

Reviews

Blues Blast Magazine, Oct 2018 - click to read original review

"United Kingdom native Mark Cole has quite a band resume leading up to this his first solo release of all original songs. He performs with The Dockery Boys, Sons Of The Delta, The Jigantics and Brothers And Sons. Here he sings, plays all the stringed instruments, harmonica and occasional percussion. The approach here is less is more. His less is more than most musician’s more. His mastery is displayed on electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel and banjo. The major thrust is blues mixed up with a rootsy sound. This guy sure knows his way around a sturdy groove along with a strong lyrical content.

The first thing that jumps out at you from the first track “Solitary” is his commanding voice dripping with compassion. The guitar riff draws you in from the git-go as the narrator speaks on his need for occasional space to himself in a relationship. The distorted guitar on “Desiccate Me Baby” comes right from The Hill Country Blues vein. Harmonica and drums drive it home. Things slow down on the rootsy and smooth “Love Will Make You Blind”. “Bon Toy Boy” is greasy boogie at its best accompanied solely by what sounds like foot tapping.

The slow, stark, moody and riveting “Let Me Down” uses spare drums and “bones” for percussion while banjo and haunting harmonica complete the quirky atmospherics of “Let Me Down”, a song that was a runner-up in the International Songwriting Competition. A moving tale of world wide flood disasters, “Water Will Rise”, utilizes Mark’s wicked lap steel skills and kalimba(thumb piano). Your guess is as good as mine as to what “Misprint Formica” is about other than table tops. It has an intriguing Eastern music vibe to it.

“Honeyslide”, a song about a certain part of the female anatomy is about as close you can get to single entendre. I’m not exactly sure what the Mexican flavored “Banus Rain” is about, but there is a region in Spain called Puerto Banus. It’s a lovely, melancholy and moody piece that includes a beautiful slide guitar solo over the acoustic guitar. The rustic “Out On A Saturday Night” is straight out of the Hill Country Blues playbook of artists such as R.L. Burnside and Jr. Kimbrough. Wicked lap steel and a spare drum sound. The moody and deliberate breakup song “Had Our Day” wraps things up with distorted electric guitar and moaning harmonica.

This is a well conceived and executed slice of blues and roots music. No cluttered production, Mark has an uncanny sense of what every song requires. Everything here just drips with a heart felt compassion for the music. You need this CD, trust me." Greg "Bluesdog" Szalony

Blues in Britain magazine, Issue 200, August 2018

"Mark Cole leads Sons Of The Delta but has now taken the plunge to release a solo debut release, and it's a mighty fine album throughout, using many influences from blues, Americana even a little slice of Mexico, there is certainly a lot to enjoy over the eleven tracks. Mark wrote every track and apart from a few friends helping out plays all the instru- ments. ‘Let Me Down’ won a runner-up place in the International Songwriting Competition. All bases are covered from the deep south through Hill Country blues to the sounds of true Americana and ‘Banus Rain;’ with its reflective Mexican influences. ‘Solitary’ is easy on the ear, a song for the end of a busy day whereas ‘Desicate Me Baby’ has that driving dirty blues groove. ’Bon Ton Boy’ is complete with an hypnotic john Lee Hooker groove, raw and toe tapping and ‘I’ll make you jump for joy’ has a simple guitar hook and supports Marks voice with a gentle tap beat, What's so enjoyable about Mark's music is that though it's very blues influenced, track by track there's something new and fresh to enjoy. Mark displays his guitar skills all through the closing track ‘Had Our Day’. Well he certainly hasn't had his day; this is a great start with more solo work to come." Pete Clack

Bluesdoodles.com - 9 out of 10 - click to read original review 

Gloucestershire born Mark Cole is a very busy boy…although this is his first solo album, he has been active in the blues world since the early 80s and has performed around the world, appearing with such greats as Pinetop Perkins, Dr. Feelgood, Chris Jagger (Mick’s brother), Roy Wood, Steve Gibbons, Mike D’Abo, Alvin Lee (at the Glastonbury Festival in 1994). With his bands The Dockery Boys, Sons of the Delta, The Jigantics, duo performances with New York-born, Gloucester resident Damon T and Canadians The Myers Brothers, he has released around a dozen albums prior to this solo effort. That is solo in the true sense of the word as he sings, plays guitar, slides, lap steel, harmonica, mandolin, accordion and numerous other known and not so well known instruments. What’s more, he is adept at all of them…so a total smartarse then?! (That is a compliment and illustrates my jealousy) Well, in a word, yes…this album is one of simplicity and skill where Cole takes all kinds of sub-genres of the blues and even includes a Mexican flavoured song for good measure. There are songs filled with humour, soul, sadness, love, tragedy and even a plea to save the live venues around the country.

Opening track, Solitary, has a clever guitar intro and then reveals a voice of clarity and expression and has the benefit of Anna Howard bringing harmony to the chorus. It is a catchy song with a lilting melody and then the solo is one of restraint and taste, albeit a bit short for my guitar mad bias. Desiccate Me Baby is a swampy blues with harp punctuating a dirty, simple riff. I love the lyrics on this too: “Desiccate me baby, then drown me in your love” paints so many pictures in my vicarious mind. No solo this time, but a totally enthralling song means even I forgive him. Love Will Make You Blind has a jazzy backing to another lilting lyric with fascinating instrumentation throughout. Bon Ton Boy is pure blues with electric guitar and stomping as Mark confuses with the lyrics…Bon Ton Boy could mean he used to wear designer French children’s clothes, but then he’s eating rice and beans in New Orleans, so I cannot fathom this one. Regardless, it is an almost a guitar exhibition which has lyrics over it and is a delight. Let Me down is, quite simply, brilliant! It reminds me of some of Ry Cooder’s finest work as the banjo adds layers of sound above various percussive instruments and then a harp solo that will send shivers through you.

Water Will Rise is apocalyptic in its assessment of impending doom courtesy of man’s interference and the increase in flooding around the world. Opening with suitable sound effects before a delicious slide guitar controls the whole song on top of a clever bass line and even a ‘thumb piano’ (like a Marimba) plinking occasionally. The next song, Misprint Formica, just shouldn’t work…it has out of tune and purposely down-tuned guitars and banjo-backed with a Turkish Saz (or Baglama; a sort of Turkish lute). The lyrics are strange, to say the least but, as I am the sort of person that sees patterns in everything, including Formica (or floor tiles, or wallpaper etc.) it kind of makes perfect sense to me. It is the instruments that are the stars, however: I love the discordant yet musical cacophony that should be dreadful but is sheer genius. Honeyslide starts with an American voiceover explaining the place of a drone in the hive. Although I have another interpretation in my twisted mind…whatever, this is yet another complex and enjoyable structured blues. Hidden away in the music is a fascinating variation on the banjo…the Turkish cümbüş needs listening out for in the background but it contributes to the overall sound.

Banus Rain is the least engaging of all of the tracks with its Mexican flavour in a ballad format as it seems to relate a story of watching rich people getting wet in Spain! The lap steel is worth listening too, however, as Mark uses it to sing without overdoing the slide and turning it Hawaiian as too many players do. Out On A Saturday Night implores people to stop being “hypnotised by some talent show” and to “find your venue and give it all the support it needs”. It name-checks the Du Drop Inn which, I guess comes from Mark’s time in Canada as this pub is in St Albans in Newfoundland as opposed to the one in Hertfordshire. An apposite sentiment as we see our choice of live music become restricted as the smaller venues close. It is another great slide backing on the electric guitar and drums. The slide throughout is brilliant and the blues grounding gives it a great feel. The final track, Had Our Day, is Mark playing an absurdly simple yet effective guitar with the harp weeping across the song when necessary. The sad tale of a breakup set to this musical palette is riveting.

This an album of pure pleasure with many and varied techniques and blues interpretations. Repeated listens reveal more depth and insight than is apparent first time around as the sparse instrumentation actually benefits the overall experience.

If you like non-standard blues with a lyrical musical punch, you will not be disappointed."  Tom Dixon

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