"Forgotten by Me" gives you an indication why. With a piano opening, synths building in like Alphaville's "Forever Young," we are greeted by these lyrics: "Sitting on the cross/I lay you down/Then later on/Bury you six feet under ground." Quickly, Marshall builds into the repeating phrase, "Someday, you will be forgotten by me." It's slightly surreal because it's such a morose song, but the overall sound is very similar to Bryan Adams's "Summer of '69," which is, I guess, melancholic. I hear the central phrase as defiant rather than lamenting, as though the forgotten would be happy for him should that come to pass. As in, things are good, I'm moving on, I'm happy, and "someday you will be forgotten by me." He's resigned to the memory, not to the fact that he'll eventually forget.
It's the same kind of interesting juxtaposition you'll find in "Heaven Came Down," where Marshall sings the low harmony, gritty and grimacing, predicting "we'll be dancing with the devil at the bottom of the sea," yet the backing is as chaotic as Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F" beats. The menacing laughter at the finish of the song only adds to the unease.
By the time of the finishing "You," like Marshall Mathers doing "Wanted Dead or Alive," it's not remotely out of place when the full-on rap verse enters: "Back and forth like a pendulum/Stop." The sound is similar in its aggressiveness and jarring mood switch to the first Gorillaz album. There's even some beatboxing that doesn't suck.
Ultimately, everything succeeds here because of the twin power of his fully invested performance and his moral authority. When he sings that "my heart's been torn and ripped in every way," you really have no doubts, as you might when listening to the latest radio-rock thriller.
Does the album sound the same if you don't know anything of Marshall's background? No. But it still sounds pretty damn good.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOW MAYBE | Released by Aaron Lee Marshall |myspace.com/aaronleemarshall