Make Way for Love by Marlon Williams

Many moons ago, I was privileged enough to witness a very intimate gig at the sorely missed Pure Pop records in St Kilda by a then unknown, fresh-faced Kiwi ex-pat by the name of Marlon Williams. The lucky fifty or so people in attendance were left in no doubt that the young man from the small town of Lyttleton, NZ was every inch a star in the making.

Several moons later, in 2015, Williams burst onto the local and international scene with his wonderful, self-titled debut album. An angelically crooned, Orbisonesque blend of country, folk and bluesy influences, it led to much overseas interest and an eventual appearance on the iconic and hugely influential BBC music program Later … With Jools Holland. The secret was very much out.

His much-anticipated second album, Make Way for Love, is now upon us and it’s clearly a giant artistic leap for Williams. Whilst at times the songwriting chops on his first record were, understandably, not quite there – as is so often the case for such a young artist’s debut – Make Way for Love displays many moments of a newly found depth and intimacy which ultimately add up to some incredibly brave and nerve-shreddingly raw, emotional gut punches.

Amidst the reverb heavy and gorgeously twangy, swirling guitars there are many revelatory lyrical snapshots which darkly detail a love gone wrong – inspired, no doubt, by the recent ending of his long-term relationship with equally wondrous, fellow-Kiwi musician Aldous Harding, who herself released the stunning Party in 2017. Of particular note on Make Way for Love is ‘Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore’ – a duet that Williams and Harding supposedly recorded via a late night, long-distance phone call.

The two are undoubtedly destined for greatness whether together or apart, and it would appear that their mutual sense of loss is very much our gain.

Declan Murphy is the music buyer at Readings St Kilda.