Acclaimed solo artist. Grammy-winning songwriter. Road warrior. By the time Kendell Marvel moved into a 200 year-old farmhouse in the Tennessee countryside in 2021, he'd already spent more than two decades expanding the boundaries of modern-day country music.
Albums like Lowdown and Lonesome and Solid Gold Sounds were showcases for his blend of southern twang and super-sized vocals, filled with songs that split the difference between honky-tonk country and roadhouse rock & roll. Marvel's catalog reaches far beyond his solo work, too, with artists like George Strait, Gary Allan, and Chris Stapleton all landing Top 40 hits with his compositions.
Of course, you can take the man out of Nashville, but you can't take the Nashville out of the man. Hours after moving in, Marvel unpacked his guitars and quickly got to work in his new space, writing songs that blended timeless textures with contemporary insight. He began with "Younger Me," a nostalgic ode to young manhood and resilience that became a Grammy-winning hit for the song's co-writers, Brothers Osborne. He kept writing during the months that followed, fine-tuning the mix of country-rockers, soul standouts, and bluesy ballads that now fill his third solo effort, Come On Sunshine.
These are songs for Saturday night hell-raising and Sunday morning comedowns. They're stand-your-ground anthems and help-your-neighbor rallying cries. They're sharply-written tunes about booze and breakups, true love and false prophets, bad habits and proud traditions, delivered by a songwriter who's lived enough life to confidently chronicle its ups and downs.
"I'm 51 years old, which means I'm long past the point of catering to anybody," Marvel says. "I'm just telling the stories I want to tell, whether it's a song like 'Come On Sunshine' — which Devon Gilfillian and I wrote at the height of the pandemic, looking to pour some light into the people who were shut in, shut down, and struggling with the doom and gloom we were all seeing on TV — or “Keep Doing Your Thing,” which argues that the world would be a better place if we just let people be who you are."
It's been nearly 25 years since Marvel — a native of southern Illinois, where he began playing barroom gigs at 10 years old — moved to Nashville and wrote Gary Allen's Top 5 hit "Right Where I Need To Be" during his first day in town. With Come On Sunshine, he proves that one's day in the sun can last a lifetime, as long as you're willing to listen to the muse, challenge your perspectives, and chase down the magic in front of you.
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