Released: March 2014
As first album titles go, And So It Began is pretty presumptuous. It implies the start of a great story and if And So It Began is the only album Morrissey & Marshall end up recording, it’ll probably seem a little bit tragic. Thankfully, while And So It Began is no classic, it’s an assured and promising enough debut for us to hope this won’t be the case.
Morrissey & Marshall are Darren Morrissey and Greg Mashall, a pair of day-dreaming troubadours with sunny, delicately strummed melodies and truly lovely vocal harmonies. ‘Strummy’ would probably be the best way to describe the album, though the manner of strumming ranges from slow and folky to faster, indie-indebted strumming. The odd raucous rockabilly riff crops up here and there, such as on the album-opening title track and closing number High And Low, but for the most part, it’s acoustic guitars, shuffling skiffle drums and intertwining vocal harmonies all the way.
The more up-tempo numbers occasionally bring to mind the early Beatles, particularly when the pair harmonise their slightly sardonic vocal tones. Morrissey & Marshall’s debut is also reminiscent of the pop folk stylings of that most famous of folk duos, Simon & Garfunkel. Pack Up, Lady in particular brings to mind the cheery charm of Mrs. Robinson.
‘Cheery’ would be another great word to describe And So It Began and the duo are undoubtedly at their best when they sound their most carefree. The title track and lead single I’ve Got A Plan are probably the best examples of this – effortlessly uplifting slices of poppy, folky rock & roll that would make a perfect accompaniment to a Summer’s day.
The downside to all this pleasantness is that Morrissey & Marshall never really floor you. In fact, their slower and softer efforts in particular often come across as a bit, well, twee. Much of the album’s midsection blurs together and while the solemn Mantra is clearly meant to sound like a timeless hymn, it comes across more like dated relics with a brief reprise of it needlessly cluttering the end of the otherwise lovely and bittersweet We Are One. And So It Began is easy listening in the truest sense, with all the positive and negative connotations that phrase carries. At the moment, it’s very easy to listen to Morrissey & Marshall but it’s a little harder to remember them. Still, if And So It Began is indeed just the beginning, it’s an encouraging one. Let’s see where this story goes.