Album Review | House Of Mercy | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5
Bex Marshall comes along at a time when female singer songwriters are just about as plentiful as hydrogen. Rather than thinking in terms of KT Tunstall though, I’m more inclined to think along the lines of a younger version of Bonnie Raitt. Seldom do we hear such blues inflected rawness in female guitar players and so it’s refreshing to hear it done with such authenticity and assurance. There’s not so much of the Lowell George sweetness in Marshall’s bottleneck playing as exemplified in the aforementioned Raitt, but more a bitter sneer. The sharp guitar licks and gritty vocals spell out a mission statement that says this girl means business and in no uncertain terms. It’s not all hard hitting city blues throughout by any means and Bex Marshall can deliver jaunty pop tunes such as “Head In The Clouds” to country radio contenders in “Bad Bad Girl” for example, as well as turning out some pretty tasty acoustic blues in “Red Light” to multi tracking everything from resonator, slide and electric guitar over an acoustic old timey ensemble featuring banjo, mandolin and violin courtesy of Don Wayne Reno, Dale Reno and Josh Hillman respectively in the pulsating “Hot Headed Man”. For atmospherics we turn to “Black Guitar”, which finds what could conceivably be Marshall’s comfort zone. There’s the presence of the loner and the booze all there in her broody bottleneck guitar; you almost don’t need the words. “Here Is My Heart” presents a much more soulful approach to Marshall’s delivery, with all those essential vocal frailties that makes the difference between soul and soulful. After listening to Kitchen Table a couple of times through, the most staggering fact to take in, is that this girl wasn’t born in any close proximity to the deep southern delta of the Mississippi, but somewhere much closer to the Thames.