Marcel Smith – From My Soul
Whenever soul dynamo Marcel Smith begins to sing, he commands the attention of anyone within earshot. There’s an obviously deep musical talent at work, but there is more importantly an authenticity and sincerity that captures people’s minds. That has never been more evident than on From My Soul, his second album for Little Village Foundation.
Combining soul, gospel and R&B, Smith’s voice is seductive and alluring, piquing interest with the anticipation that listeners just might find a secret and comforting message being sung expressly for them. It’s the believability factor, and Smith’s got it.
From My Soul features five songs co-written by Smith and a fistful of others that he makes his own from the very get-go, including songs from the likes of Jimmy Liggins, Willie Nelson and the Bee Gees. He displays in no uncertain terms that he is doing it his way, and his passion demands close attention.
Smith returns to Greaseland USA for his followup to 2018’s Everybody Needs Love for Little Village.
Producer Christoffer “Kid” Andersen realized the intuitive power in Smith’s music when he first started working with him several years ago.
“It is that elusive quality of making you believe what he sings, making you care about the story, and care for him as a person, that puts Marcel right up there with the legendary greats of the idiom,” Andersen says. “As you listen to these songs, you will feel not just what a great singer Marcel Smith is but also what a good genuine person he is.”
Smith knows that making a connection with the audience members is what wins them over. He simply follows his intuition and passion.
The approach was born of an early interest in gospel quartets. Smith learned from some of the best by studying the Soul Stirrers, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and the Dixie Hummingbirds.Gospel veteran Willie Washington heard him singing in church as a 15-year-old and within a year invited him to join his band, the WD Gospel Singers, in 1994.
And while there are plenty of gospel overtones on From My Soul, it includes a wide-swath of musical styles as well. You hear flavorings from Aaron Neville, Sam Cooke, Ben E. King, O.V. Wright and Tyrone Davis.
The songs are always inspired, from the chunky guitar of Andersen, the funky drums of Derrick “D’Mar” Martin, the graceful swooning background singing of The Sons of the Soul Revivers, striking solos from harmonica player Rick Estrin and trombone player Mike Rita, and a whole lot more. Even soul singer Johnny Rawls sings with Smith on a pair of tunes.
Smith’s music is more about a participatory journey than a simple sound experience. His sympathetic understanding of the power of the songs story combined with impassioned vocals is an intoxicating mix that sets his performances apart.