I’ve thought a lot lately about music with a sense of locale. About the connection a listener makes with maybe an accent that sounds like home or an instrument that makes you feel an area. I’m often miffed when an artists tries to hide or change their roots instead of embrace them.
The Witness Marks lead single “Change Your Name” off their eponymous debut EP due out May 24 embraces roots with both a sense of alt-country and heartland-rock. Frontman and chief songwriterÂ Ethan Fogus says the album “is a collection of songs about people searching for a sense of community.”
Comparisons to Bright Eyes, Dawes, Springsteen, and Jason Isbell are most evident lyrically with each song’s greatest strength being storytelling and the connection between character and listener. “Change Your Name” serves a perfect introduction to the album with the opening lyrics painting a vivid and engaging picture as Fogus sings We were standing in your driveway drinking beer in the soft rain/your promotion had just come through and we were packing for your move. With a voice that quivers like Conor Oberst’s and with some of the grit heard in early Springsteen, like those two Fogus’ voice takes some getting use to. Like any character with a strong personality, once you do you’ll come in tune with the greater story of personal connections conveyed.
Recorded live at The Jam Room by Zac Thomas (also co-producer) The Witness Marks are Ethan Fogus, Moses Andrews III, Sean Thomson, and Alex Skiro. Additional musicians include Kristen Harris & Kelley McLachlan (The Boomtown Waifs,) Mario McLean, Ross Swinson, (flower shopping,) and Emily Wait.