Mark Cline Bates review…June 12, 2019….

MARK CLINE BATES

KING OF THE CROWS

ANIMALS–MISSISSIPPI–SELF CONTROL–BABY DON’T LIKE–CAGED UP BULL–DEVIL–I DON’T KNOW WHY–APATHETIC MOON–HIGHWAY SIGNS–DON’T WORRY–GINGER–MY HEART IS GOOD

Mark Cline Bates is a consummate songwriter whose material is always honest, thought-provoking, and shared straight from his soul.  The twelve originals that make up his latest, “King Of The Crows,” is exactly that–songs for Everyman of good times, hard times, and the ever-present pull of Man and his myriad of choices, and their subsequent consequences.  This was pretty much a three-man affair, with Mark on vocals and piano, Don Dixon on bass, and Jim Brock on drums, with guest guitar from Michael Lipton.

One of our favorites led off. “Animals” not only looks at the cycle of the four seasons, but, perhaps on a deeper, more intimate level, the cycle of life itself.  “Caged Bull” deals with poor choices from a man who runs from the law, while “Tom Waits is barkin’ on my stereo,” and feels ‘”stuck in between the push and the pull,” awaiting his fate.  “Highway Signs” follows a similar path, as our hero’s lifetime of poor choices is slowly catching up to him, as he readily professes, “I ain’t too good at learnin’ quick.”

We had two more favorites.  “Don’t Worry” was the set’s most upbeat tune, as Mark gets his piano in a rollicking, New Orleans-at-Mardi Gras groove.  And, “Ginger” deals with the plight of many of America’s aging seniors,   It’s the somber story of an 83-year-old woman who lives on Social Security confined to her double wide and a “Chevy Cavalier that I can’ft drive,” eventually throwing herself on the mercy of the never-ending stream of “debt collectors.”

Mark Cline Bates will draw you in with his collection of characters, many of whom we can relate to, and, realistically, save for the grace of God,  go we.  His voice may remind many of Jason Isbell, and “King Of The Crows” shows a young songwriter at the absolute top of his game!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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