Anatomy is the second album from English singer songwriter Rob Marr, a release which offers musical kitchen sink drama within equally emotive and dramatic sounds. It is not a release which demands attention but is an unassuming collection of songs which connect and grow into charming companions to lose oneself within. For the album Marr collaborated with ex-Sly and the Family Stone drummer Andy Newmark who upon first listen to his music admitted it was ‘not his cup of tea’ before discovering, to both of their delights, that it was an acquired taste. That is exactly how Anatomy evolved here too with its initial presence just an engaging but underwhelming introduction though some songs did spark up the imagination. Returning to it many times and finding elements making unannounced appearances in the head away from its body the album grew into a delicious slice of well crafted and inspired songs led by the lyrical prowess of Marr.
From London, Marr first grabbed attention with his debut album Domestic Dramas of 2007 and even more so when an EP featuring ‘the cream’ of the album was released the following year to ignite the attention of the likes of Tom Robinson and an increasing fan base. Around this point Marr also impressed with headlining shows at places such as The Roundhouse and Ronnie Scotts where he was supported by Jamie Morrison (The Noisettes) on drums and bass player Al Mobbs (Gorillaz). It was whilst rehearsing for a 6 Music Festival in 2009 that he met Newmark, with the latter getting in touch a few months after to suggest working together for the next Marr album. Two years in the making the album was created in the Kent apple barn conversion of Newmark and the loft of album producer Ronnie Moore.
The first single from the album Fencebuilding appeared at the end of 2011 to a strong response which was built upon even more so by the following single Fat And Happy leading to strong anticipation for Anatomy itself. Fencebuilding opens up the album and is the most instantly infectious song on the release. Immediately it wraps the ear in suspense and dramatic breath to pull a full focus upon its piano led charms. It is an aural glimpse into the heart of a relationship, its air and emotive texture. It is a show tune, a track which one can visualise in a film or on stage, though it avoids the over blown melodrama and fat excesses one finds in many of those type of songs to be an easily lying piece of imagination within thoughts and heart. The piano and rhythms are contagious and the vocals of Marr in bringing the great lyrical premise outstanding but it is the wonderful harmonies provided by guests the Smoke Fairies and Nikki Blackham which ensure the emerging adoration for the song is long lasting.
Summer In The City and Dirt Beneath Your Toes, the latter again featuring Smoke Fairies, continue the magnetic start to the album. The first has a great guitar tease behind the keys to offer a smouldering groove to the gait of the track whilst the second is a sultry and idyllic piece of melodic swagger, a warm breeze which just lights up the senses and heart. Within the first trio of songs there is a freshness of flavours and warm energies which meld classical, indie, soul, and jazzy essences into an eclectic breeze.
As Fat and Happy strokes thoughts with its fine classical caresses, it swings into a teasing little stroll with a funk heart and mischievous intent to its satisfied presence. Comparison to the songwriting of Andy Partridge comes to mind as it paints its picture, both able with precise yet uncomplicated structures able to evoke sharp feelings to familiar scenes.
Just because of personal tastes the album does not quite have the same hold from the following song onwards, the first four songs glorious in their craft and presence. To be fair though songs such as Anatomy Of A Lover and That Was Then, This is Now do nothing less than leave one fully captured and satisfied.
Anatomy is a fine album which finds a place in the day like the rays of the sun, overall both warming and reassuring in their touch. If unique and eccentrically visualised pieces of melodic honesty fires your imagination than Rob Marr is the man for you.
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