Mark Selby cleans up with latest album 'Dirt'
Mark Selby - Dirt
by JESSICA KEATON
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on March 7, 2003 | PRINT

There's only one word to describe Mark Selby's style: versatile. On "Dirt," his second release, he combines blues, soul, rock and country to create an album that ranges from earthy introspection to feel-good rock. Selby's musical talents, combined with his original, thought-provoking lyrics, make this album a classic that's guaranteed to hold your attention from start to finish.

Selby probably is best known for his songwriting skills: he's penned the lyrics for artists like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Dixie Chicks, including the hits "Blue on Black" and "There's Your Trouble." The lyrics on "Dirt" provide an even better display of his talents. In the opening track, "Reason Enough," Selby uses the same premise as he did in "Blue on Black": he combines contrasting images to get his message across. The lyrics focus on finding "reason enough" to perform actions, using lines like "I don't want to pray just so I won't go to hell / Not gonna take 'cause I can't help myself" to help define those reasons. Bluesy and guitar-driven, this song was made for Selby's voice, providing the perfect showcase for his powerful yet crooning vocal style.

In the middle of the album is "One Man," a rock song with country undertones that's carried by a vibrant bass beat. His lyrical talents again come into the spotlight as he describes a woman's ideal man: "You want a lover who can paint you by numbers," Selby sings, creating a unique image of a couple that focuses on knowing the details about each other.

Selby ventures into yet another style with the ballad-like "Desire," a song about his lust for a woman. It's no ordinary love song, though; Selby tells you right at the beginning that he's adding his own twist: "I want to write myself a love song / but I want to make it new," he sings. Instead of following the usual pattern, he focuses on pursuing a girl playing hard-to-get, even encouraging her to act indifferent: "Baby, tell me you don't need me / That'll make me want you more."

Finally, at the end of "Dirt" comes the title track, a mix of blues, rock, and a little country that features rhythmic guitar chords and throbbing bass. The simplistic, straightforward lyrics evoke images of a typical life in the country: "Out here beyond the fences / Beyond the borderline / Just takin' up my share of space / Between the earth and sky." Together, the lyrics and the beat of "Dirt" make it among the best songs on the album.

Not every song on the album is as praiseworthy, however. "Easier to Lie," one of the last tracks, sounds too nasally and whiney to inspire likability. It also has a monotonous tone that draws the song out, making it seem longer than its 4 minutes and 32 seconds. Still, considering the quality of the rest of the album, this song is only a minor flaw.

Selby's range of styles, strong vocals, and original lyrics will attract your attention with the very first song and hold it through until the end. The amount of talent he displays on "Dirt" makes it well worth a listen.

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