Album Review: I Am Only Me by Kevin Marble

I had the immense pleasure of being a sophomore the year Kevin Marble matriculated to Wheaton College with his guitar and harmonica in hand. Over the next four years Kevin became somewhat of a famous figure at Wheaton, known for providing killer acoustic shows whether on campus or around a campfire. People would request personal favorites and the crowd would sing along, Kevin’s talent for penning clever lyrics and hummable melodies making it easy for listeners to pick up his songs and remember them.

Kevin’s first album, What Are You Afraid Of (which you can download here), was a cleanly produced selection of twelve songs showcasing his considerable talent as a multi-instrumentalist alongside guest vocalists and the occasional string accompaniment. Throughout his debut effort Kevin proved more than capable of crafting engaging arrangements that accented his rewarding lyrics, and I was interested to see how he would move forward.

Two years later, Kevin has released a six song “live” EP. Recorded in one afternoon –  just Kevin, his guitar, his harmonica, and the occasional guest backup singer – I Am Only Me is a warm throwback to all those up-close-and-personal shows during college (without the added benefit of being able to meditate on how much his harmonica holder looks like headgear).

Really though.

Really though.

The EP opens with the mid-tempo “Maybe Not,” a surprisingly catchy reflection on the difficulty of moving on, even from something that may or may not be love.

The two standout tracks, for me, are “Wide Open World” and “I’m Alive,” the former a quiet meditation and the latter a folky celebration of life. In each track Kevin’s earnest vocals convey all of the requisite emotions and then some.

After repeated listenings, I only find myself mildly disappointed in one track, “I’m a Fool For You,” the slightly-predictable quality of its lyrics seem out of place in Kevin’s notably clever body of work. Still, that’s more a testament to Kevin’s higher standards than anything.

Overall, I Am Only Me is an intimate and enjoyable EP that is perfect for the summer months. The fact that it’s free makes it even more irresistible. So do yourself a favor and become acquainted with the wonderful Kevin Marble; you won’t regret it.

The EP drops July 1, and you’ll be able to download it from his NoiseTrade page here.

Finally, here’s a video of the first single from I Am Only Me. Check it out!

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