NYC-based Paul Mark & The Van Dorens test the Gravity of the situation on this great new LP, with songs about everything from thoughts of the day to thoughts of yesterday. Gravity is an album that floats any boat down the stream of the unknown while it takes the scenic route to get there and has tons of fun on the way, along with some heartfelt sentiments. These musicians are not only good but they’re as fun as they are serious, especially the featured man up front, Paul Mark himself. And not being familiar with him, the great thing is he has a vast back catalog to delve into from here.
Gravity runs prolific, and it runs in a succession of songs that fit the title which is about losing ground and going with the rocky flow. The artist reminds me of various songwriters of the past who mixed a bit of comedy with a serious songwriting approach, not unlike Warren Zevon and others. “Gravity Is Failing” begins the album with some tongue in check lyrics that challenge feeling well grounded. It’s very cool and contains some excellent violin. This might be the best track on the LP, but that can also vary the more I hear it. The lovely piano playing of Paul Mark dominates most of the songs and comes on heavy as “Forever” takes you away and it’s only “I Spin When You Grin” that can change the mood. And change the mood it does, and if I had to call a second favorite track it would be this one, as it goes very well with the opener. And that means all-the more to come must be worth sticking around for, so I did and “The Next Fight” is what I got.
Another marvelous song with everything that’s good about this band. “Coronation” stands out to be a token instrumental and a very commanding studio performance by all. Hat’s off to another top shelf effort serving as a highlight in the Gravity of the situation. “Con Man VIP” is next and could get some attention or not for the subject matter but either way it’s out forever and will be heard. But the mood changes all the way up on “Friend Gone Astray” but you can add it to the amount of world class ballads on the album and they’re all really soulful and gritty to the max.
“You Can Take It With You” is where more comedy come into the lyrical picture but it’s all very lighthearted where needed and more heavy handed in the right places. The point is there either way you slice it. “OTB” is the track I listen to the least, so far, and it still has something I am sure that will ultimately click. But things pick back up with a respectable cover of the classic Yardbirds song “Heart Full Of Soul” which is faithful to the original but not without the stamp of Paul Mark as it leads out the last couple of song on what is a brilliant 2020 release.