Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, International, Alternative R&B
In 2007, at the age of 20, violinist and vocalist Marques Toliver moved from Daytona Beach to Brooklyn. He busked, awed TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone, and subsequently entered the prominent local music scene. After he recorded strings for Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, he moved to London, was hailed by Adele, and appeared on Later…with Jools Holland, where he performed the emotionally cutting "White Sails" by himself.
The reputation that precedes Marques Toliver is rather offputting: a hipster polymath and classically trained violinist and soul singer who edits a style magazine, struts through fashion shoots and busks in Brick Lane. The reality, though, is more engaging. His honeyed voice and ear for a gratifying hook combine with a tricksy musical intelligence so that, although the quality's a bit uneven on his debut, the best bits rouse and wrongfoot you in equal measure.
Multi-instrumentalist Marques Toliver's CV bulges with the kind of entries PR departments could only dream of. He is a sometime model, editor of Love Is the Law magazine, Adele's "favourite new artist" and has been variously reported being discovered busking in New York by TV on the Radio and in London by Bella Union's Simon Raymonde. You can't help wondering what those gathered crowds heard, which can't have resembled the classically trained violinist's elaborately assembled debut, with its tracks co-produced by Adele man Eg White, dollops of classical and soul, and at times over-complicated arrangements.
Marques Toliver is a PR team’s wet dream. There’s no need to manufacture backstory or conjure artistic mystique, Toliver comes with the sort of biography and CV that would fill the vacancy of 'multi-talented, bohemian renaissance man' in a second, no references required. Nonetheless Adele was only too happy to supply one about her 'favourite new artist' to the producers of Later, leading to Toliver’s captivating solo performance of ‘White Sails’ on the show.
Utter the words ‘string musician’ and most people might picture grand orchestras of classical musicians performing in lavish amphitheaters. Marques Toliver doesn’t fit that description. There’s a chance you’ve already come across him even if you’ve never heard his name. The multi-instrumentalist often busked in London and New York before eventually prickling the ears of TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone.