It can be overwhelming sifting through the plethora of emerging artists accessible to R&B enthusiasts. Streaming platforms provide an algorithmic buffet of falsetto professionals, making standing out in a sea of talent increasingly difficult. This is what makes the emergence of Q Marsden so unique. The virtually unsearchable solo artist is forging his own distinct path in a very crowded space.
Contrary to industry trends, the name Q is not a curated alter ego intended to portray a certain aesthetic, it is simply his name. His parents gave the 21-year-old Florida native his mononym, both Jamaican immigrants who produced within the reggae and dancehall scenes. Q’s father Steven “Lenky” Marsden is best known for his work Diwali Riddim, sampled by Sean Paul (‘Get Busy’) and Rhianna (‘Pon De Replay’). The emotional maturity on display throughout his discography can be linked back to Q’s childhood, growing up in the studio and testing his voice at a young age.
The Shave Experiment: Directors Cut seamlessly blends flavours of Neo-Soul, R&B and Funk. Released via Columbia Records, the self-produced EP showcases every side of the multi-instrumentalist. Heart-stirring vocals combine with 70’s inspired synth to convey a young man’s journey through emotional turmoil. This was a step in a more vulnerable direction from Q’s July 2020 project Forest Green, a seven-track declaration of desire and infatuation towards his lover. As an extension to the original EP (The Shave Experiment), Directors Cut is a deliberate separation rather than a collection of B-sides. Q strives to be specific about the moments he creates and the effect this will have on others.
Listening to ‘Alone’, Q feels like a new age Prince, a modern-day Maxwell or D’Angelo reincarnate. The falsetto precision of his predecessors is palpable in the intergenerational sound of the track. Punctuated drum patterns and soft rock guitar riffs carry a distinct Steve Lacy charm. Euphonious three chord sequences allow for Q’s sonic vocals to remain the protagonist in his narrative, where carefully controlled flanging pulls you in to his cyclical inner thinking.
Beneath the raw instrumentation and stylish persona, an innate sense of vulnerability bleeds through the track. The gut-punching vocals break down barriers and give a genuine insight into contemporary masculinity. ‘Alone’ seeks to embrace the normality of emotional release, where Q’s uncertainties and insecurities are on full display. He creates honesty in his message; it is ok to be working through your own shit.
Listen to ‘Alone’: A call for clarity and acceptance in isolation, a feeling that couldn’t be more relevant.
Mike thrusts imperfections and background noises into the spotlight during the recording process, utilising omnidirectional microphones that capture the sounds and textures of an environment in its entirety. This at times busy ear space gives a nostalgic ambience to the track, like discovering a song in the bustling warmth of a café or crowded bar for the first time.
Dressed stylishly in a patterned blue bandana, long-sleeve white tee and furry boots the artist flows lyrically on situation-ships with women, stupid financial decisions and the pitfalls of getting famous far too young. The clip is crisp, clean and super simple.