Few names have had as much buzz over the past few years as Marcus King, and with good reason. There are few performers out there who are the total package: can play, sing, AND write. King is one of those, and with his new solo album El Dorado, he puts all the pieces together. The end result is less a guitar-driven record than a modern soul masterpiece.
From the moment the first acoustic notes of the first track, “Young Man’s Dream,” ring out, it’s clear King went into El Dorado intent on showcasing his vocals and songwriting. Producer Dan Auerbach (the Black Keys) was able to coax a delicacy out of King’s voice that’s not always apparent with his regular band, and the soul he oozes on “Wildflowers and Wine,” “Break,” and “Love Song,” sound as fresh today as they would have in 70s-era Motown or Memphis.
The album is definitely not short on top-notch musicianship, however. “The Well” is propelled by raucous beat with Auerbach’s Keys-esque stamp all over it, and King’s 6-string pyrotechnics permeate tracks like “Say You Will,” “No Pain,” and “Turn It Up.” “Too Much Whiskey” has all the flavors of Nashville, where the album was recorded: pedal steel, harmonica, and a rolling backbeat. King may not ratchet up his normally blistering fretboard work on this album like he does on MKB songs, but that’s not really what El Dorado is about.
While El Dorado is not a Marcus King Band album – the group behind him is comprised of Auerbach session aces Gene Chrisman (drums), Dave Roe (bass) and Bobby Wood (keyboards), it does include the hallmarks of what makes an MKB band great – tight grooves, great guitar, and compelling stories. Auerbach coaxed an extra vocal gear out of of King here though, and that’s what makes the album shine.
El Dorado is out on January 17.