Texan country singer Bobby Marquez’s debut album on independent label Grande Star is a good example of solid country music with a Texas feel, underpinned with generous helpings of fiddle and steel. Bobby has quite a light voice but a very listenable one, and he is a very promising songwriter, having contributed to half the tracks on this album, collaborating most often with the album producer Gerald Smith. Smith worked with other writers on a further three tracks. All the material is at least decent, with a few standouts.
It opens with one of the two wholly outside songs (the other being a cover of Jim Lauderdale’s swooping ‘Whisper’), the western swing ‘She’s Not From Texas’, a lyrically slight but cute Karen Staley/Anita Cochran song about falling for a girl the protagonist meets on a Beaumont dancefloor: the payoff being “she’s from heaven”. Karen Staley also helped Bobby to write ‘That’s Life’, which hit #1 on the regional Texas country chart. Bobby’s sincere delivery lends a warmth and authenticity to this charmingly nostalgic and ultimately touching song as it imparts some small-town fatherly philosophy (admittedly the latter is a little cliche’d, but it feels churlish to dwell on that when the feel of the song is so endearing). Staley (a fine singer in her own right) also sings harmony vocals on the album.
Smith wrote the plaintive lost love ballad ‘Just Look At Me’ with Curtis Wayne, and this is another highlight with some lovely yearning fiddle and some very retro backing vocals towards the end of the song:
I’m still your fool
One look at you
And just look at me
Still under your spell so helplessly
Steve Frame wrote the very best track with Bobby and Smith, the cautionary tale of the ‘Marlboro Man’, about a girl who hooks up with a nameless guy in a bar, set to a classic country tune:
She wrote her number on the back of his Marlboro pack
He gave her his too but so much for that
The number he gave her was as fake as his name
So she named him the Marlboro man
Naturally it doesn’t go well:
He had her heart in the palm of his hand
In the morning she awoke to the mirrors and smoke
And just the memory of the “Marlboro man”
So don’t strike a match with a cowboy
He’ll only put out your plans
And all you’ll have left are the ashes
Where there once was a Marlboro man
I love this one.
Written by Bobby, Smith and Donna DeSopo, ‘Neon Tan’ is an amusing Caribbean style song with a difference as Bobby forsakes the beach for the bar:
I won’t have to worry about those UV rays
Burning my skin and peeling for days and days
No sand in my pants
No oil on my skin
From the glow on my face you’ll know I’ve been
Working on my neon tan
If you’re wondering where I am
Holding an cold one in my hand
Smith and Jeremy Campbell wrote the enjoyable ‘Beer Pressure’, in which the weak willed hero finds himself drinking thanks to his friends’ blandishments (or so he claims):
Every time I tried to talk them into going home
Someone would buy another round
All of that beer pressure
Finally got to me
Terry Bell helped to write a couple of love songs with Bobby, first the pleasant and nicely sung ‘Touch Of A Woman’, as the protagonist claim she needs “a woman like you” to make his life complete, because:
I’ve got everything I need that money can buy
If money buys happiness why am I such an unhappy guy
The pair were joined by Smith to write the tender falling-in-love ballad ‘Overtime’. Both are sung with great sincerity and warmth.
Finally, Buddy Owens co-wrote the swingy ‘Complicated Woman’ with Smith about the difficulty a simple man has understanding the (really not very strange) vagaries of his woman, but of course he “wouldn’t have it any other way”. It may have coined a new word – I’ve never heard of a “malloholic” before.
Overall this is a really nice Texas country record which is growing on me more with every listen.
You can check out the music for yourself at Bobby’s website. The CD version is harder to find, but you can download the album digitally at cdbaby.