For nearly 20 years, Kendell Marvel has made a living writing great songs for other people to sing, going all the way back to his 1990 hit for Gary Allan, “Right Where I Need To Be.” Other stars who have sung his songs include Chris Stapleton, George Strait, Kenny Chesney and Jamey Johnson. Now, 17 years after he arrived in Nashville from southern Illinois, Marvel has finally released his solo debut record, Lowdown & Lonesome, a collection of deep-fried boogie and country riffage that has more in common with Waylon Jennings and ZZ Top than most of what comes out of glossy Nashville these days. Produced by Keith Gattis, Lowdown & Lonesome finds Marvel heading up a tight band of sidemen and session players including guitarist Audley Freed, drummer Fred Eltringham and harmonica player Mickey Raphael. But for once, Marvel is the star at center stage—literally. His monthly live showcase at Nashville’s famed Exit/In, the “Honky Tonk Experience,” has become one of the city’s favorite musical attractions, with a rotating cast of guests playing their favorite cover songs. These days, it’s Marvel singing the originals.
Watch Kendell Marvel perform LIVE at Paste Studio Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.