Though beginning slowly, Make/Believe by Joshua Marcus delivers an 8-song, banjo-laden folk album that is filled with wonderfully written music and fantastic vocal melodies and harmonies.
Make/Believe begins rather slowly with the quiet and mostly instrumental track, “The Calm Before The Storm.” The initial reaction brought on by this track is that the album is going to put you to sleep. That’s definitely not the case, but the second track doesn’t do much better at waking you up.
With the third track, “Shiny Or Sharp Rocks,” Marcus delves into the music with a chorus that’s oddly catchy and some fantastic banjo picking that helps lighten and liven the mood. “Coal Or Smoke” displays more of a traditional bluegrass sound, throwing guitar and upright bass into the mix, helping to flesh out the music. “Man Threatening Pipe,” reverts back to the darker sound established by the first two songs. The addition of a cello and harmonica makes the song more interesting than the beginning tracks.
The final three songs of the album mimic the sounds of tracks 3 and 4, sounding a little more like bluegrass, and displaying more lively instrumentation and catchy choruses.
By the time the final track, “Ooh,” is over, it’s easy to see that Joshua Marcus is an adept songwriter with a knack for balancing crescendos and decrescendos to accent the emotions of each song. The fact that most of the songs focus on banjo and are completely devoid of guitar, along with bluegrass style vocal harmonies, provide Marcus with a very unique sound amongst the folk/indie scene.
It’s difficult to really compare Marcus to any one artist due to his unique style. The closest thing that comes to mind is The Shins playing bluegrass, but that’s mainly due to Marcus’s vocal styles and not the music he plays. Really, all you can do is to simply listen to the music and judge for yourself. I highly recommend Make/Believe do anyone who enjoys folk or indie music.