There have been a ton of great acts emerging out of the hills and hollows of North Carolina for some time now – Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Town Mountain, just to name a few. I am extremely excited to say that there is a new group that we should all be adding to our music queues that have been cultivated and seasoned by the same hills and hollows as those other greats. Jack Marion and the Pearl Snap Prophets is a five-piece country music band from Boone, North Carolina and they have been taking the Carolina music scene by storm since their inception in 2017 – and now their drive and talent has forever been encapsulated in the form of their debut full-length studio album, When the Well Runs Dry, which dropped just in time for the holidays. The Pearl Snap Prophets are comprised of Owen Myers on lead guitar, Chandler Bell on bass, Marcus Clonts on drums, Matt Guard on keys, and of course Jack Marion as the frontman, singing and playing rhythm guitar. Their sound possesses an innovative blend of country and rock and roll and their album is sure to fit snug between the likes of American Aquarium and the Drive-By Truckers on the shelves of music fans.
The intro track on the album features a collection of voicemail messages left to Jack Marion demonstrating his familial ties and strong friendships. The voicemail messages begin to overlap one another and when they finally reach a clamorous head, one voice remains left – the voice of an upset woman who asks to be called back whenever Jack finds the time. The emotions are evident in the shakiness of her voice as she leaves her message, and it serves as an effective precursor to the song that is to immediately follow. The opening lines to the inaugural track of the album are “Hey there Katie, I hope you’re doing well”, revealing the name of the aforementioned woman, and as the song progresses, the context of their expired relationship is revealed. The song “What A Shame” is a strong opening track detailing the thoughts one might have during the aftermath of a relationship. The narrator attempts to cope with the memory of his lost love, but she continues to plague his mind, and he declares that it is a shame the way things have ended up between the two of them.
The song “Ain’t That A Bitch” deals with the concept of one minute being on top of the world, and the next barely scraping by. The idea is expressed through a story of a boy and a girl who once were the epidemy of the American dream, who eventually end up scrounging to make ends meet and driving around in a stolen car. This song serves as an exceptional example of storytelling in country songwriting – and combined with a rocking instrumentation by the Pearl Snap Prophets propels the song into being one of my personal favorites on the album. Another highlight from the album is the eighth track – a song called “Family Funeral”. The song paints a vivid picture of a family funeral and its aftermath, along with the various characters that comprise a family unit. Jack seems to question why does it take an event such as the passing of a loved one for families to come together… He discusses how family members become relative strangers when they don’t spend time together, and even urges families to participate with one another before the next one has to be buried. The song resonated with me a great deal because I see family members drifting apart in my own life, and I too, like Jack, urge them to get to know one another while there is still a chance to do so. The song also features strict country instrumentation, including a fiddle, which is always a welcome addition in this kind of music.
Jack Marion has proven with this record that he is a songwriting institution, with the tracks already mentioned above, as well as “Unfaithful Heart,” “Old House,” and “Wolves” (Co-written with Chris McGinnis), all serving as strong examples of his undeniable talent. From beginning to end, When the Well Runs Dry conveys many ideas dealing with relationships, family, dreams, and a future of uncertainty all within the confines of small-town life. Jack has assembled a group of fantastic musicians, that shine just as bright on this album, in the form of his backing band: The Pearl Snap Prophets, as well as a network of other creative individuals who had a hand in bringing this project to life at RFG Studios in Boone. Cory Halterman, Jacob Davis Martin, and Chris McGinnis all served as producers on the project, along with Jack himself, in order to bring these songs into the world, and I think we are all better off for it. When the Well Runs Dry is a concept record exploring perceptions, notions, and philosophies that have been plaguing the mind of Jack Marion, and I urge all music lovers to give it a listen because I strongly believe there is something within its narrative that we all can learn from – And this is only the beginning, folks!
Jack Marion and the Pearl Snap Prophets – When the Well Runs Dry (2019)
- What a Shame
- Ain’t That a Bitch
- Unfaithful Heart
- Old House
- American Dream
- Family Funeral
- Taillight Town