I'm Willing [LP]

I'm Willing [LP]

by Marker StarlingMarker Starling

Vinyl LP(Long Playing Record)

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Marker Starling, the name Chris A. Cummings of long-running Canadian indie rock band Mantler adopted for his solo work, released a lovely album in 2015. Titled Rosy Maze, Cummings' woodsmoke-rich vocals and electric piano wizardry led the record through late-'60s Beach Boys-style pastoral pop, nocturnal '70s lounge balladry, and smooth Baroque pop topped with vocal harmonies and strings galore. The next Marker Starling record, 2016's I'm Willing, was a total departure. It features Cummings on electric piano backed only by a drum machine, running through a carefully selected batch of cover songs. The mood is subdued and romantic with a little melancholy here and there. Tracks range from the radio staple "Stormy" by Classics IV to more obscure cuts by soul groups like the Moments (the beautiful "I'm Willing") and disco acts like Flowers ("For Real"). Cummings treats every song like it was something he's singing over candlelight to a lover, staring deeply into their eyes as he calmly pours out his warmly overflowing heart. The album never gets above a whisper as Cummings pulls off the trick a great cover artist must: Making everything sound like a song they could have written themselves. He turns John Cale's "Amsterdam" from a slightly harrowing tale told in a shaky voice into a rueful love-lost tune that could have been buried on side two of a Christopher Cross album. Or something from Rosy Maze. He smooths out the rough spots on Steve Kuhn's early-'70s jazz ballad "The Meaning of Love," does what sounds like the demo for Jon Lucien's "Would You Believe in Me," and with the help of Laetitia Sadier, turns Bobby Cole's bopping "Perfect Day" into a relaxed mantra for a peaceful state of mind. The most impressive magic trick is turning Flowers' bouncing early disco track "For Real" into an achingly sweet and emotional song that sports Cummings' most emotional lead vocal and some lovely backing vocal harmonies too. It's all too easy to just grab a bunch of oft-covered songs, trot out boring arrangements, and pass it off as an artistic statement. Lots of people have done it. The care Cummings puts into the selection of songs, the range of feelings and moods he captures from the spare music, and the soul he puts into every single lyric makes I'm Willing a textbook case for how to do a covers album right. [I'm Willing was also released on LP.]

Product Details

Release Date: 02/10/2017
Label: Tin Angel
UPC: 5052442008422
catalogNumber: 56
Rank: 168927


  1. Stormy
  2. Perfect Day
  3. I'm Willing
  4. For Real
  5. Amsterdam
  6. Lost in Paradise
  7. Meaning of Love
  8. Would You Believe in Me
  9. Moves
  10. The Smiling Hour

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