By Monk

Artwork for Fortuna by Bex MarshallAfter a decade away from the recording studio, Bex Marshall wasted little time putting together this, her “comeback” album, putting the whole package together in just one week-long intense session. And the intensity of that session is reflected in the honesty and reality of feeling and commitment reflected in this collection of ten raw, rootsy blues songs delivered from the heart and soul of their creator.

Right from the off Marshall is telling us the gospel truth (sic) with the acidic drawl of ‘Preaching To The Choir’ which sees her drawing, vocally at least, from the well of two of her personal heroines and influences, Tina Turner and Janis Joplin, while the overall tonality reflects that of the great British blues revivalists such as Peter Green and Eric Clapton as much as the back porch southern fire of the likes of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters.

With narry a pause for breath between songs, Marshall laconically declares that she ain’t gonna drink that ‘Dirty Water’ no more, and it’s as emphatic a declaration of defiance and intent as you would expect from such a strong-willed musical force – gritty to the core yet reflecting an inner fragility and frailty that few artists manage to extrapolate and express yet Marshall manages to accomplish with effortless ease. This is reflected no more effectively on the simply beautiful ‘5AM’, an expressive ballad delivered via an almost torch song vocal and a series of Gary Moore-evoking guitar peaks and troughs, both delivered with her blend of soulful charisma and raw emotion.

Showing her diversity, she immediately ramps up the energy level with the cat-scratching, mosquito-slapping rockabilly stomper ‘Jungle’ before slipping into another easy segue and simultaneous change of gear with the sardonic ‘Table For One’, which features a laconic late-night bar-room piano breakdown that exemplifies the song’s overall smokiness.

The title track, the only instrumental, explodes out of the traps faster than Usain Bolt on steroids, driven by a rich, funked-up jazzy bassline from Marsahll’s close friend and collaborator, the late Robert Eugene Daniels, whose contributions have been included on five of the album’s tracks. ‘Fortuna’ merges seamlessly, once again, into the ZZ Top-style stomp of ‘Lay Down And Die’ – and if you need any more convincing of Marshall’s opining that there ain’t no way she’s gonna do that, then this rowdy floor-filler will provide more than ample further evidence more than capable of convincing even the most stagnant of juries.

Bex Marshall is undoubtedly a musical and personal tour-de-force, and this album is proof that ‘Fortuna’ does indeed favour the brave (sic).

  • Fortuna‘ is released today (Friday 1 March).

Bex Marshall plays the following dates this month:

  • Monday 4 – Dorking, St Mary’s Sessions
  • Sunday 10 – London, The Priory Crouch End
  • Monday 11 – Islington, Plaquimine Lock
  • Wednesday 13 – Glasgow, Howling Wolf
  • Friday 15 – Glasgow, Clutha
  • Saturday 16 – Edinburgh, Whistle Binkies
  • Tuesday 19 – Broadstairs, Wrotham Arms
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