Boasting impressive lengths of versatility over the years, Marc Broussard has delved into more genres than we can take count of – rock, pop, R&B, blues, funk, and even warranting a unique description “Bayou-soul” as some have coined. While past records have shown efforts at appealing to the masses, his latest effort A Life Worth Living has to be one of the most authentic and heartfelt records from the veteran crooner.
Certain tracks in his previous outings definitely saw him take on a remarkable range of stylistic changes, but Broussard exudes a whole different vibe on A Life Worth Living, almost to the point where we can actually hear that he is finally at peace with his music persona. Perhaps it’s the return to Vanguard Records, or simply a new level of maturity, but we see the singer-songwriter finally discovering both his potential and freedom here.
That being said, it’s no wonder that A Life Worth Living features several throwbacks to the sounds that we have grown to love Broussard for. “Dying Man” is a heavy blues-rock number with a tasty swing rhythm to it, brimming with soulful energy as the layering of sounds by the band back up the Hammond organ on its wonderful groove-bleeding solo. Reminiscent of the blues styles of Gary Clark Jr. and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, this is where the record truly shows its teeth with rough falsettos and nasty growls from Broussard.
On the other hand, “Weight of the World” brings fresh R&B grooves to the table, serving as some of the many instances where we simply hear Broussard dive headfirst into the music and just have fun with it. Echoing the styles of Allen Stone, the track is a soulful addition to the album with its mid-tempo rhythm and heartwarming lyrics as he sings “But I’ll never let the weight of the world / Keep me from you girl.” The gospel choir backing up Broussard’s voice definitely adds another choral dimension to the number. Songs like this one and “Shine” have Broussard bringing so much passion and heart to the table that you can imagine the smile on his face as the music rings through your ears.
He explores various other sounds and approaches towards his music throughout the rest of the album as well. “Man Ain’t Supposed To Cry” is a soul-influenced ’90s rock ballad, in which the track’s smooth vibes serve as a lovely contrast to Broussard’s rough vocal tones. Songs like “Perfect to Me” and “Edge of Heaven” see the band take the backseat with sparse acoustic-driven arrangements, pulling back for emotions to shine through. The latter is a perfect example of how beautiful songwriting truly comes from the heart as a manner of release, as the singer throws his frustrations on the table: “Stranded on the edge of heaven, waiting on the edge of forever / Got me hanging by a string, it’s not a temporary thing.”
Honest songwriting is the talk of the town as we see him bare his emotions yet again on “Give ’em Hell”, which is truly a heartwarming standout in the twelve-track collection as it reminisces a loved one who was lost. Words such as “We plan to play Harper June in June / And as befitting any tribute / You’ll probably be slightly unamused” bring out authenticity in the rock ballad elegy even with all its dynamicity. It comes across as almost inspirational and empowering to some extent, in the Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson kind of way. His duet with Genevieve Schatz on “Another Day” does the same with their voices blending beautifully, keeping it simple with a piano and light percussion that put his maturity in the spotlight. The heartfelt elegy sees the duo harmonize over the themes of a fading relationship with the melancholic chorus, “Another day, to try and right the wrongs / When we’ve known all along, we can’t make up the distance.”
On the topic of songwriting, the title track “A Life Worth Living” sees Broussard take on a rather interesting subject as he muses over the effects of Hurricane Katrina through the storytelling of a couple and the ensuing grief brought about by the disaster. Broussard’s growth is most evident here as he croons “Oh the way it rained the day they came for Maimie / With a love so strong that it took a hurricane.” Lead single “Hurricane Heart”, on the other hand, contains the line “Rolling stone with a loaded gun / Rambling man, baby I was born to run” where he pays numerous tributes to iconic music of the past. Try dissecting that one on your own.
All in all, A Life Worth Living is a collection of songs from an artist who is no longer trying to fit in, but has found the freedom to explore emotional intimacy through his songwriting and simply have fun with the music. While we do speed through a remarkable number of genres in the twelve tracks, the single quality that makes them cohesive altogether is definitely the heart put into it. Marc Broussard shines through on this one not only with his confidence, but his musicianship as well.