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“Handyman” by Marlon Davis

In a delicate push, “Handyman,” the new single from singer/songwriter Marlon Davis’ latest round of recording in the studio, begins to play, a seductive Caribbean melody leading the way. The instrumental introduction to this latest studio release from Davis doesn’t last very long, but it doesn’t have to set the stage for everything that’s about to transpire in its wake. The man of the hour hasn’t even begun to sing yet, and already his emotional grasp of the grooves is bleeding through the stereo into every facet of his backing band’s play – the drums are beating like a lover’s heart, the bass throbbing with anticipation, the main melody finding a bit of kindling with which to make a roaring sonic fire.

Once Davis does start singing, there’s no taking the focus away from his vocals. His voice is velvety, his words sweet but stained with the glowing introspection that comes from retrospectively looking back at a significant moment in the evolving patchwork that is life. There’s nothing about his style of crooning that would suggest that he doesn’t know exactly what he’s trying to say, and perhaps even more important than that, how he wants to say it, but there’s a hint of unsureness to his affectionate exchanges with the backing band. He’s got a lot of swagger, but ironically enough, it’s when he’s at his most confident that we often get to hear Davis at his most human in “Handyman.”

The chorus churns us in a vortex of harmonies that feels like it could go on forever, and that alone has made me want to hear the track live sometime. All of the material I’ve been hearing out of this specific scene in the last couple of years sounds like it would be amazing on stage, but this song in particular seems like it would have the most potential to turn into a skyscraper-sized jam complete with ad-libbing and even a bit of showmanship from the players behind Marlon Davis. If his presence is anything like it is here in person, he’s going to have one of the finer shows worth seeing in 2023, which is something when taking into account how many killer acts are going to be hitting the road in the next few months.

“Handyman” concludes with the arrangement’s dizzying growl amidst a heart-stopping percussive finale that makes anyone with a pulse want to play the track all over again, and I’ve found that the temptation to do so is often just too hard for me to resist. Marlon Davis covers a lot of ground on his last release, but with regards to doing what he does best – easygoing melodies with a barebones lyrical structure and a lot of vibrato in the delivery – this is his best single to get your hands on this summer. He’s bringing brawny bass and sexy lyrical play together with a poppy duel that can’t be competed with in “Handyman,” and he deserves a big round of applause for doing so.

Mindy McCall



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