Gravity by Paul Mark and the Van Dorens is a strong collection of songs that pay attention to the songwriting just for the sake of song to deliver such a thing of wonder. This is a brilliant album, the 11th release which happened to be in-the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. The album was produced by Paul Mark and mastered by Bruce Barielle, New Orleans LA. Arranged, recorded and mixed by P. Mark in NYC, with Christian Howes, Eli Bishop, Greg Byer on strings Tess Primack, Connie Laws on background vocals P. Mark - Vocals, piano, bass, guitar, organ, xylophone, drums, accordion.
The songs on Gravity tend to speak for themselves, including the Yardbirds cover toward the end of the disc, and it stands up to former releases dating all the way back to the Go Big OR Go Home CD. The disc kicks off with what might as well be the title track, “Gravity Is Failing,” and it sets the tone with a narrative approach in the lyrics. But there’s a lot of things to be said about the musical arrangement as well, as it plays like a variety of everything from ragtime piano to folk music. This is a very swash buckling sort of song with an esoteric feel that combines piano and violin.
“Forever” is the next track and once it starts you know this is a concept album with some storyline holding it together, almost as if it were written with current affairs in mind but I also sense that is a coinciding thing that Paul Mark is not alone in doing. This is a fantastic ballad, and although I have not delved much into his back catalog, I have heard enough to call this on par with what his fans expect him to deliver on.
“I Spin When You Grin” is a more enthusiastic song with a lot of Leon Russell flair to it, in fact I am most reminded of him and Doctor John on this album, and they’re two artists anyone wouldn’t mind being compared to. In fact, it’s hard to know what is-a cover and what isn’t when something sounds very familiar like this but leave it to Paul Mark because he’s a great songwriter. And this is just as evident on every self- penned track as it continues with “The Next Fight,” which is a bit slower but just as entertaining as anything on this fine album.
By this time you’re drawn into what’s going on and the rest is gravy, starting with the very Baroque sounding “Coronation” instrumental to set up the next track “Con Man VIP” which clearly references the political climate of late. The organ work throughout this album is a highlight and no exception to this track. But the next track is a more sobering piece with a very soothing on outcome, “Friend Gone Astray” and it is another excellently played and sung tune. Also, worth noting are “You Can’t Take It With You” and a respectable version of the classic “Heart Full Of Soul” by the aforementioned Yardbirds.