by Kyle Branche
Review – Road Sick Eyes – Mark Knight and the Unsung Heroes
Road Sick Eyes, the new album from Mark Knight and the Unsung Heroes has been a highly-anticipated new release for some time now, and it’s here.
Good artistic efforts take time, like the simmering of a robust stew, and the gathering storm in the studio with Tom Lavin at the helm has produced the natural extension and forward progression of Mark’s own signature niche.
To carve your own sliver in today’s world music sphere is a daunting consideration, but when one follows their muse with strength and belief, it can therefore look and sound effortless in its achievement. Even moreso, with truth as our new conscious priority in these difficult, trying times, the inner searching stones it took MK to lay down raw reality lyrics woven in a musical backdrop of Americana are a secret breath of fresh in a society tiring of its own bullshit.
With the power and flexibility of a new sonic engine, the twelve new songs on Road Sick Eyes, all penned by Mark, are the perfect mixture of fast-moving gems like 7am and Lies, sweet medium, double-groove gallops like the album’s foot-stompin’ opener Pack It Up, Sink Your Teeth Into and God and Dollar Bills, and slower, heartfelt acoustic grooves such as the album’s haunting title track along with Slow Your Pace.
With Southern rock influences and an understanding of what Ronnie Van Zant meant when he said “Turn It Up”, Mark and the band blaze through each song with conviction to the balanced blend of loosely tight, creating an atmosphere where the music, the lyric and the melodies can shine through with Mark’s voice and swagger riding over the top and in the pocket, like catching a wave on the water, guiding the destination to shore, yet paddling out for more.
Coming off the heels of his previous album, the great Bone Rail Tight, along with previous band incarnations Worry Beads and their incredible album Iron Spittin’ Horse, and Gravy’s Bones, Mark Knight has earned his bones after 25 years in the music business, dating back to 1989’s Psycho Café with his platinum-selling rock band Bang Tango. History still matters!
The more I listen to Road Sick Eyes in the varied ways of either the already excellent set order on the record, in random mode on my CD player for another way in, or even programming a set of my early favorites, my mind envisions this music and artist being the perfect opener to many touring heavyweights from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to The Black Crowes to The Allman Brothers, to name a few. However, his impressive song catalogue could easily fill a 2-hour headlining set if called upon.
In entertainment terms, Mark’s talent of the triple threat (singer-songwriter-player) is of equal caliber to other professionals in the field right next door who can act, dance and sing. There is no doubt or surprise as to why Knight and his band’s collective musical river is flowing at its current rate with an unrelenting move to the top circle.
Any great album develops in the ear over time, listen after listen. This is one of those albums. The guitar lines that Mark fills within and throughout are exquisitely crafted to creep in and grab you in the most delicious sense. To create simplicity out of complexity is a masterwork.
Mark Knight and the Unsung Heroes are alive and killing it in a way that the biggest of our famous Southern rock outfits from the 70’s up to today would all stand up together with encore applause in appreciation of this gypsy blood talent taking their legendary style and feeling to continued heights with a sharp, striking fever pitch of equal respect from where it all began.
If you love the hot rockin’, country-sweet, Southern blues rock jam like I do and have for over three decades . . . well . . . I think you know what I mean! Mark, with your new music, thank you for “Bringin’ it Back Alive”.