I ran into Craig Marshall a few years back on a visit to Austin, and I never forgot about it.
How fitting that today we’re premiering his song “Something On Your Mind” from his upcoming release After All, due out August 7 on Big Ticket Records.
This upbeat song is chock full of question marks. Marshall deftly weaves a bit of rockabilly with a twang and a rock beat as he tries to guess his subject’s intentions. This winning combination showcases his solid songwriting and guitar skills.
For the track, Marshall double-tracked vintage 1965 Gibson J50, which he's had for 15 years. The guitar was his go to writing partner for all of the songs for After All.
Marshall shares, ”The phrase 'Something On Your Mind' fit the melody I had already written for the song. Then I was like 'OK, what does that mean?' I discovered it was about the about the signs one gives, like a certain smile hiding the truth, that are not stated in words, but in those other ways that only that one person can see."
The record is Marshall’s second outing with producer (and longtime Marshall admirer),Robert Harrison, leader of the critically acclaimed band, Cotton Mather.
“I’m hearing Buck Owens or Merle Haggard in my head when I’m writing a song like ‘After All’ or ‘The Only Sound,’” Marshall says, but in fact, two of After All’s centerpieces, “Something On Your Mind” (the album’s first single) and “Only Till The End of Time” navigate firmly in the Petty-Beatles lane.
Marshall’s love of The Beach Boys and The Bee Gees can also be heard, and over the years, critics have cited artists as diverse as Badfinger, Marshall Crenshaw and XTC when describing Marshall. The songs on After All do show these influences, but ultimately a Marshall fan will hear a Marshall song, and the uninitiated will be treated to a warm, familiar sound that plays unique and fresh.
“I’ve returned to the song-driven music that I was playing when I first moved to Austin,” he explains. “Writing timeless songs has always been the goal, but starting with the last album, and even more on After All, I seem to be able to connect with listeners in a much more visceral way, and I’m finding people reacting and commenting on my lyrics in new way, too.”
New ways of connecting can be hard fought for a career musician. Marshall’s lengthy musical resume stretches back to his teen years performing with various combos in his hometown of Syracuse, New York. After moving to Austin in the early 1990’s with his then-band, The Delta Rays, he soon found himself establishing and leading the locally popular Sinatra-style jazz-swing outfit, The Lucky Strikes, which kept him busy, but eventually provoked the urge to get back to the personal songs that are his trademark.
The resulting work cemented Marshall’s growing reputation as a writer, leading to his songs getting picked up for a variety of film and television soundtracks, being covered by revered Austin-based songwriters Trish Murphy and Penny Jo Pullus, and American folk-rock act, The Kennedys, and being honored twice by the Austin Songwriters Group for tunes that now appear on After All (“Bitter Times Disappear,” “Back For More.”)
Most recently, Marshall’s notoriety among those who know has helped him start an exciting new working relationship with fellow songwriter Kostas Lazarides, who has written hits for Dixie Chicks, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, and many more.
Find out more at http://www.craigmarshall.com/