Marcus King has arrived at his promised land with the release of his new album, El Dorado. The singer-songwriter was hailed as a “guitar phenom” by The Washington Post at the tender age of 20 for his astounding skill on the instrument.
This past year saw the release of Carolina Confessions, the latest album from King’s original band, the Marcus King Band, which was produced by Grammy winner Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson).
The album was a smashing success on Americana radio, and it landed King a tour opening slot with Chris Stapleton, who introduced him as “one of his favorite artists” during their performances together.
El Dorado was King’s first solo album, and it was produced by Dan Auerbach (Yola) of the Black Keys, a move that he made on a whim, much like his relocation to Nashville. King’s scorching guitar solos and emotional lyrics capture a sense of seizing the day.
King is recognized as one of The Boot’s Artists to Watch for 2020 due to the success of his latest album and the buzz he has generated with his band. To find out more about him, keep reading.
A Family Of Musicians Preceded Him
King began playing the guitar when he was three or four years old, began performing professionally at the age of 11, and has never considered doing anything else in his life.
King is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the music industry. His grandfather was a country guitarist, and his father is still actively performing.
Recently, King made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry, and his proud father was there to see him play the guitar that belonged to his late grandfather.
When He Relocated To Nashville, Dan Auerbach Was There To Help Him Make Contacts
King moved to Nashville in 2018 after a year of bereavement and the loss of close friends. Auerbach connected King with influential local musicians and co-wrote “How Long,” a song recorded by King and his band for Carolina Confessions.
El Dorado was started a few weeks later because the duo enjoyed working together so much; the album’s 12 songs were written over the course of just three days.
Auerbach and King were joined in the studio by legendary authors Paul Overstreet, Ronnie Bowman, and Pat McLaughlin. For El Dorado, Auerbach also enlisted some of the most renowned studio musicians in country and soul music history,
such as drummer Gene Chrisman and keyboard player Bobby Wood, two of the original members of the Memphis Boys, the house band at Chips Moman’s illustrious American Sound Studio. Songs by Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley, Bobby Womack, Joe Tex, and many more can be found in their setlist.
“Marcus is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest guitarists, and with good reason. According to Auerbach, “he’s regularly the best player in the room, hands down,” meaning that King consistently outperforms his peers.
He continues, “I was equally astounded by the way he can sing — so effortless, so soulful, straight from the heart. It was also immediately apparent that he possessed considerable linguistic talent.
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Everything comes so naturally to him, which is why he can cut through to the meat of any song and make an emotional connection. He’s truly unique, and I’m grateful to have collaborated with him on this album.
El Dorado was an opportunity for the duo to highlight King’s talents as a songwriter and performer. “I tried to use a softer vocal tone on this record,” King explains.
When I was a kid, I used to play in bars with tinny sound systems and overpowering amplifiers. I was cutting the vocals for “Break,” which is almost a whisper, and then Dan said … ‘We got a lot of vocals to recut — this is the sound.’”
El Dorado Is Much More Than Just The Name Of An Album
King places a great deal of importance on the name “El Dorado.” King stands next to the classic Cadillac that played a pivotal role in his naming of the album El Dorado on the cover.
“The name kept flashing before my eyes like a neon sign on the highway,” King says. Once King learned that his father’s El Dorado acoustic guitar bore the same name, El Dorado took on new significance for him. The artist reflects, “At around three years old, I recall reaching out and grabbing at it.”
The album is named after his new house. “That’s how I see Nashville,” King says, “the city of gold.” To put it simply, I wanted to be nearer the action, both musically and professionally. He continues, “I signed the lease agreement for the house I rent on the road without even seeing inside. Do as the universe asks and pay attention when it does.
Many times, He Has Felt Like An Outsider
While in high school, King often felt alone because of his passion for music. His friend had died in a car accident when he was 13 years old, and music helped him cope with the loss.
I had never felt anything like what I felt for her before. That was a dark time, and music was my way of dealing with it,” King says. “The kids at school were good folks, but we were worlds apart.
I also had undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and my appearance and interests were not embraced by my educators and their pupils. It felt like being in prison, and all I really needed to learn was music.”
A YouTube video of the young musician performing in a Los Angeles guitar shop in 2014 went viral, catapulting him to widespread acclaim. During his teenage years, King connected with producer Warren Haynes, who eventually signed him to his label Evil Teen.
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