After facing the same roadblocks as a black singer trying to navigate the choppy waters of Country music and the Nashville scene that artists like Rissi Palmer and Mickey Guyton have spoken about, Miko Marks never thought she’d make another album again after 2008’s ‘It Feels Good’. However a passion and fire was re-ignited which led to her releasing ‘Our Country’ in 2021 This was quickly followed up by her ‘Race Records’ EP and here we are a year later with the soulful, fiery and uplifting ‘Feel Like Going Home’.
Speaking on the record, Marks explains, ‘I spent my early career trying to fit into a very specific and limited image and sound within the country music genre. I love country music and always will, but I was raised on so much more, and it’s all in me waiting and wanting to come out. I just want to make the music that is true and honest from within my soul. To me it’s a blend of everything I carry. It’s country, it’s blues, it’s rock n roll, it’s gospel and soul.” And that is exactly what you’ll get on ‘Feel Like Going Home’.
The album opens with the title track, which ironically is also the song Marks uses to close down her live shows, something the folks at the Grand Ole Opry might get to see in person when she makes her debut there this Friday, (October 14th), on album release day! The track is replete with stirring imagery of trains, sunsets, families and journeys home. It’s a metaphorical song about redemption and homecomings all set against a wonderful background of Blues and southern rock that is genre-free and good for your soul.
If it’s the Blues and southern Soul that really stirs the beast inside you look no further than ‘River’. Dive into waters full of acoustic guitars, dobro and harmonica and bask in the soulful, gritty tones of Marks’ vocals. The music itself feels very much like a river as it undulates and swells, creating images of healing, of baptisms and rebirth. Similarly, ‘The Good Life’, an uplifting mix of Blues, Soul and Gospel, speaks to the same issues but here Marks pays tribute to the heritage, legacy and strength of three generations of southern women. “It’s a tribute to the line of women in my family, ‘ she says, “The strength of my mother’s mother flows through my veins.” Not just my mother and her mother but all the way back, all the strength needed to survive the horrors that our people have endured for generations.”
That feeling of heritage, lineage, strength and resilience runs all the way through the narrative of this album. On ‘Lay Your Burdens Down’ Marks takes us to church with an empowering message of hope on a kind of modern hymn that is religious in nature but absolutely non-denominational whilst ‘Deliver Me’ is an incredibly powerful plea for help in troubled times that features some outstanding vocals from Marks: the kind of lush, rich tones that stir something way deep down inside. By the final third of this song the guitars are wailing, the pianos are wild and the Gospel singers have swept you away on a tide of uplifting joy that makes you want to be a better person. Throw in ‘Peace of Mind’, a piano ballad with Soul overtones about finding contentment and ‘This Time’, a largely acoustic ‘Sun Records’-esque heartbreak song about the struggles of finding love, peace and happiness and you’ve got an incredibly strong set of hymnals, Soul songs and Gospel-leaning ballads that will make you think about love, life and the meaning of it all.
Elsewhere on ‘Feel Like Going Home’, Marks isn’t afraid to ramp things up a little. ‘One More Night’ is all unashamed Gospel joy mixed with a little Muscle Shoals muscle and Motown soul. The song pays tribute, in some cases through direct mention, to early artists like Lightnin Hopkins, Howlin Wolf, Big Mama Thornton, and Muddy Waters as it rumbles and rides its way across the south. ‘Trouble’, perhaps the most instantly loveable song on this album, begins with a fiery Miranda Lambert-esque explosion and then settles into something more like Dylan jamming with Muddy Waters as Marks sings about politics, religion and the state of the world. It’s a fierce foot-stomper of a song that I can see raising some hell in the dark, sweaty clubs of the south, and beyond! The album closes with ‘Jubilee’, a soulful, Bluesy number dripping in plaintive guitars and a rich vocal telling us how we will, one day, all be forgiven. We’re back in church again to finish things off here as Marks instigates a nice time change on the chorus and has the ingenuity to let the pianos just lift everything that one bit higher. You can educate yourself, in the same way I did, as to what a jubilee song is right right here.
‘Feel Like Going Home’ is a triumph. A triumph of joy, resilience and southern strength. It endures in the same way that the people of the south have endured. It’s an album with a big heart and a whole bunch of soul. There’s a lot of powerful messages across the songs on offer here but Marks’ deft touch and patient nature means you are not left feeling lectured to. This is not a political album in any shape or form, it’s an album of the heart, speaking directly to the experience of what it means to be a human and it’s also damn good to sing and dance to as well! When done well music can be both uplifting, important and educational whilst also being something that can put a great big grin on your face at the same time. This is that type of music. The train is pulling into the station, you can hear the thunder coming and see the tracks beginning to vibrate. It’s time to go home so why not let Miko Marks be your guide on this part of the journey? You won’t regret it.
Tracklist: 1. Feel Like Going Home 2. One More Night 3. River 4. This Time 5. Peace of Mind 6. Trouble 7. The Good Life 8. Deliver Me 9. The Other Side 10. Lay Your Burdens Down 11. Jubilee Record Label: Redtone Records Release Date: October 14th Buy ‘Feel Like Going Home’ now