Mark Erelli hasn’t produced a solo album of originals like For A Song – his new self-released record – since 2010, but that doesn’t mean the Massachusetts-based songwriter hasn’t been extremely busy. He dialed down his solo work a bit in order to raise his family, which includes two young boys, but the last six years have been a time of music growth for this extremely versatile musician. Erelli has been producer, sideman and bandmate to several different musical outfits, like Lori McKenna, Paula Cole and the bluegrass band Barnstar!.
What is striking about For A Song is that you not only hear Erelli’s own distinct New England folkie style – a style he’s been perfecting since the late 90’s – you can the hear others in his music as well. You hear the playfulness of Barnstar! on songs like “Wayside,” and you literally hear Paula Cole on “Look Up.” Cole adds her distinct guest vocals to that track, as well as “French King.”
The most touching influence for any folk fan is the late Bill Morrissey, to whom Mark paid tribute with his last studio release, Milltowns. Here, you can’t help but feel like Mark is channeling Bill’s whimsical vocal delivery on the song “Analog Hero.”
I have it on good authority that Mark Erelli can, on command, sing Roy Orbison songs at pitch. He has a four octave vocal range, including the “Mariah Carey note.” There are very few voices that can sing any type of song and contain as much emotion and power as his voice can so easily do. The songs on For A Song are worthy of this man’s voice; they are the best of his career, so far. It’s inspiring to hear the culmination of all his hard work in songwriting, raising a family and different musical collaborations of these past several years come to life on this album.