Tapping into a distinct powerful emotional core, Mark Schraven, also known as The Mark pours his dark frustrations over love and lust into his single “Louisiana Voodoo” from his album Floating Downstream. Schraven has had an extensive musical background, an old soul of sorts. Dutch-born, the man has traveled across the world and played from intimate small venues to actual soccer stadiums, but his work maintains an earnest charm to it, indicative of his everyman persona he utilizes to expose common truths we all feel. Schraven believes a lot of his contemporary work has an upbeat charm with slightly snarky or cynical lyrics and that duality shines in “Louisiana Voodoo”.
Kicking off with some impressive guitars and hard clanging drums, Schraven’s moody voice kicks in singing about his want of true love to fall under the spell of, a feeling that plenty can associate with, but there’s plenty of doubts that bubble to the surface, making Schraven question if these feelings he has are legitimate or if their sneaky “spells” placed on him by this mysterious temptress, the titular “Louisiana Voodoo”. Something I really love about the song is the way that it takes some old ideas and gives it a fresh coat of paint. Even the way of reframing something like “Am I falling in love or am I being used” and turning it into something almost mystical is an inspired choice from a lyrical front. Because Schraven comes from a very old school place in terms of both his musical love, but also in the sounds he’s evoking, coming from a more southern twinge with some slight almost New Orleans affectations. For younger listeners who aren’t as well versed in this style of music, it might be a bit of a hard sell. I think listening to it gives a very rewarding experience.
It has a certain effortless quality to it, not that it came from a factory, but that it almost feels easy for Schraven at this point like he could do this in his sleep. There’s also a tightness on display that really knows when to emphasize the power of the incredibly memorable chorus as “You play, Dangerous Games” echoes on repeat, burrowing itself into the listener’s skull, not unlike the magic that Schraven is powerless to fight off. It’s also an incredibly malleable song, and it’s something I’d even love to hear in a more spoken word type aesthetic ala something like Leonard Cohen. Schraven clearly hasn’t gotten as far as he has by pure luck only. He’s a hard-working musician with a clear passion and vision. It should also be noted that this track has some outstanding guitar work thanks to the late Tony Joe White who unfortunately passed in 2018. His guitar work brings an added flair that really soars in the back end of the song that reminds us why he was such a staggering talent, to begin with. I’m happily awaiting what Schraven will hit us with next because that man can really work his magic on us any day.
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