New Zealand’s Marlon Williams has quite simply got one of the most extraordinary, effortlessly distinctive voices of his generation—a fact well known to fans of his first, self-titled solo album, and his captivating live shows.
An otherworldly instrument with an affecting vibrato, it’s a voice that’s earned repeated comparisons to the great Roy Orbison, and even briefly had Williams, in his youth, consider a career in classical singing, before realizing his temperament was more Stratocaster than Stradivarius.
Compare his eponymous 2016 solo debut with the latest two singles from his forthcoming Make Way for Love (out 16 February) and you begin to get a feel for that creative elasticity.
The record also moves Williams several paces away from “country”—the genre that’s been affixed to him more than any in recent years. Make Way For Love, with forays into cinematic strings, reverb, rollicking guitar and at least one quiet piano ballad, is a more expansive affair.
“I think just having the time,” he explains, “and having just finished a cycle of playing these quite heavily country-leaning songs for the last three or four years, and playing them a lot, has definitely pushed me into exploring other things.”