Mark Huff review…March 26, 2018….

MARK HUFF

STARS FOR EYES

EXODUS EMPIRE RECORDS   EXCD 3716

PRISON DOOR–STARS FOR EYES–CAROLINA BLUE–BIG CITY DOWN–GOD IN GEOGRAPHY–NIGHTINGALE–HEART BEATING WITHOUT YOU–I KNOW YOU DON’T WANT MY LOVE–BURNING LETTERS–ALBATROSS–ALMOST LIKE THE BLUES

Mark Huff was inspired to become a musician thru the various records he heard as a young man from his mom and his siblings.  This ran the gamut from the Stones to Muddy to Neil Diamond, and his first band was a punk-meets-British Invasion outfit named Smart Bomb.  A lotta water has gone under the bridge since then, and he follows up his 2016 Americana blockbuster, “Down River,” with his latest, “Stars For Eyes,” on Exodus Empire Records.

The set opens with one of Mark’s well-crafted “character songs,” a tale of lust and murder, which finds our killer “drawing flowers on the wall,” with “voices passing by, just outside my Prison Door.”  The cool electric guitar outro here, and the psychedelic licks at the end of the Tom Petty-esque title cut are courtesy of our long-time acquaintance, Doug Lancio.  Mark’s nod to Music City is “everybody’s moving to that Big City Down,” while Micah Hulscher’s unique organ riff rides deliciously throughout the wistful “God In Geography.”

We had two favorites, too.  The swampy-sounding story of two doomed lovers is “Burning Letters,” where “every night our cheeks are gettin’ wetter, so I guess we just better move along.”  The album closes with our other favorite, the set’s lone cover.  It is a powerful Leonard Cohen anthem dealing with the tragedies of war and its consequences thereafter, set over Mark’s plaintive, ghostly vocal delivery, with backing vocals from Julie Christenson, who also sang behind Leonard in the original version of this song.

Mark Huff is an honest, open, and emotional writer and artist who effectively captures the good, bad, and sometimes ugly aspects of life and love, and how to cope and get up and dust yourself off and carry on.  “Stars For Eyes” is another excellent collection!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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