As always, I wish I could discuss every song on this album. Marcus Foster has done something truly special with Nameless Path, and each song deserves a mention, but I’ll try to keep it brief with some of the highest of the highlights. Rest assured that the whole album is worth adding to your collection.
Starting with the opening number, The Old Birch Tree, I was greeted with something very different from what I’ve come to expect from Foster. With a distinct gospel feel, this piece introduces the record with style. It shows everything Marcus can do in one song, with the simple exposition spiraling upward into powerful vocals and one amazing piano solo.
Just a few tracks later, he really switches things up and gives Faint Stir of Madness a dirty swing feel. With horns and fun percussion, this is nothing like the Marcus Foster you’ve heard. I felt a little like I was in a speakeasy while I was listening, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I hit repeat more than once. In direct contrast, You My Love follows with beautiful poetry set to a simple tune. The slide guitar gives a mournful country-western feel without being overwhelming. It’s a sweet declaration of love in Marcus’s signature style.
Skipping ahead another track, there’s I Was Broken, which is arguably one of his more well-known songs. If you think you’ve already heard it, think again. This version is my personal highlight of the record. With soft, subdued vocals in the beginning punctuated by guitar chords, the tune quickly grows and swells with incredible orchestration, including staccato cello and soaring violins. There is a touch of the melancholy to the lyrics, but this changes with each crescendo, swelling into a vibrant and triumphant conclusion.
One of Marcus’s most powerful tools is his ability to convey emotion through both his voice and the instruments. He carries that emotion straight through from I Was Broken into Don’t Need to Lose You to Know. This tune begins with quiet voice and wistful feel, as is the usual for Foster, but he quickly amps up the tugs to the heartstrings with plaintive voice and weeping slide guitar.
Just when I thought he was done surprising, Rushes and Reeds queued up. This is a nod to classic rock, with definite Led Zeppelin flavor, but Marcus’s signature is all over it. With raucous guitar and voice, Marcus lets loose and rocks for three solid minutes, never once slipping in his poetry or musicality. It’s a refreshing change from the rest of the album, and yet it doesn’t stand out.
I Don’t Mind has long been my favorite Marcus Foster tune, and I was thrilled to hear it in a new incarnation here on the album. This is the perfect song for a road trip with the top down, a bonfire on cold nights, or being barefoot on the beach. It’s laid back without being lazy, relaxed but full of message. The beauty of this version is that there is sweeping orchestration added, giving a fuller and more lush feel without harming that simple sweetness.
I can’t wrap up the record without mentioning Memory of Your Arms. The real treat here, without discounting the rest of the tune, is the ethereal hidden track at the end of the song. Sweet, soft vocals throughout the meat of the piece, accompanied once again by gentle slide guitar, fades away into dreamy, whispery falsetto from Foster, with nothing supporting but a few guitar notes. It’s a haunting melody with eerie instrumentation and lyrics that will mesmerize.
In all, this is a diverse and well-planned record that covers the immense spectrum of Foster’s talent and ability. Each track stands alone, and yet they all work together in one cohesive album that will get play on my iPod for years to come.