Raised in a family with a father who strummed and whistled Johnny Cash tunes and an operatic mother whose French ancestors invented chocolate covered cherries, it is no wonder that Mark Lawrence was destined to be a man musically pulled in opposite directions. Perhaps it is precisely this tension that has caused him to willfully resist merely residing within the clichéd trappings of the many styles of music he insists upon displaying a knack for. Mark tends to approach just about every genre in his own self prescribed way – respectful, but yet never overly reverent.
With the release of his first solo CD "Swirl", Mark has unveiled a stylistically varied, meticulously crafted song-cycle that brings you right into his impressionistically fleeting world of elegant daydreams and absinthe, trying to find out what's going on inside that weary heart of yours, hoping to coax a tiny smile. Repeat listens reveal more and reward further as this record draws you in deeper and deeper. If it's comparisons (beyond McCartney/Costello/Hawley) you need, "Swirl" will be of great comfort to those who enjoyed "Apple Venus"-era XTC, or wished that later-period Squeeze could've held it together for just one more great LP. In characteristically peripatetic fashion, Mark wrote and recorded “Swirl” in a number of places - Tokyo, San Francisco and Sacramento - and then mixed it all in Virginia. Mark opted to play most of the instruments on “Swirl” himself with some additional contributions here and there from several members of San Francisco’s American Music Club.
Ask any musician and they will tell you that what sounds the simplest is often the most difficult to pull off, and Mark accomplishes this gracefully. However, further scrutiny of his lyrics and the intricacies within the music itself will yield very satisfying results too, and you’ll find yourself transported to unfamiliar places, wandering, and wondering what’s around the next corner. If you delve even further, you will find dark undertones hidden within the deceptively sweet mix. It all sounds beautiful, but as with the more interesting things in life, there is often discord lurking below the surface.
Mark has said that “the human condition is basically the same no matter where you go: the same universal wants and desires; dreams, and emotions -melancholy, longing, sensitivity, fragility….” And that’s exactly what you’ll hear in his delicate melodies and fearlessly Romantic, yet occasionally satirical lyrics.
Aside from playing under his own name on the East Coast, Japan and California, Mark has at one time been a member of a number of other acclaimed bands including The Boweevils, The Mockers, Whole Lotsa Papa, The Claustrophobes, and Persephone’s Bees.