The Mark May Band’s newest album “Deep Dark Demon” is good. It is. It really is. If that statement sounds like I’m trying to convince myself that it’s true, well, that’s because I kind of am.
The blues-rock outfit’s latest offering features gratuitous heavy-handed minor pentatonic shredding, songs about blues, and even a song about music in general. Mark May and company don’t limit themselves to just the tried-and-true 12 bar blues though, “Deep Dark Demon” also contains a handful of color-by-numbers attempts at different rock genres. For a Santana soundalike, listen to “Back”, for “Hey, is that ‘Whipping Post’ by The Allman Brothers?” listen to “My Last Ride,” for reggae-ish off-beat guitar chucks, check out “For Your Love,” and for funk only your father-in-law could love crank up the talk-box-laden ”Invisible Man”.
Look, I get it. The intention was likely to include songs from multiple genres in order to showcase the band’s ability to play a wide array of material. Unfortunately, the band often sounds as if it’s trying to narrowly avoid copyright infringement. And at that, they succeeded, there’s no doubt that many of these songs could be crowd pleasers at BBQ, Blues & Brews fests across the country. But in the process they decimated any chance the album had at a cohesive identity leaving “Deep Dark Demon” feeling like more of a dated playlist than a record.
And this is a shame because underneath all of the cheesy tropes and obvious yearning for all things ‘70s, Mark May has a strong voice and obviously knows his way around a fret board. A shift in focus from assignment-based songwriting to the earnestness the blues is known for could have saved this release from being the simply good album it is.
- Mark May Band
- ‘Deep Dark Demon’
- Label: Gulf Coast Records
- Release: July 17, 2020