Shane Marler, who issues the album Just A Fool this week, has been an active musician for more than two decades now.
Although he’s written music before, it’s only within the last year that he began writing lyrics. He wasn’t sure how to start that process, he says, so he called his friend—and labelmate—Wichita singer-songwriter Nikki Moddelmog for help. He says the worked happened rather quickly.
“We got together and three hours later, we had three songs,” says Marler.
Before long, he had a better grasp on writing both music and lyrics.
“Toward the end of the process, I found that I could just sit at home and knock one out all the way," he says. "So it was very liberating.”
One of the first ones he finished on his own was “Desperately,” a song he wrote for his wife, Morgan.
“When I got that done I was almost shaking,” he says. “I was so excited because I just thought it was really, really good.”
The majority of Marler's new album is rooted in the sounds of the 1920s and 30s. But the opening track, "Just A Fool," crosses into rockabilly and even heavy rock.
“I remember leaving the first day in the studio, when I was laying down guitar tracks and thinking, on my way home, ‘I wonder if seven guitars is too much on the first song?’” he says.
Marler's been playing and recording long enough that he's seen his audience grow more diverse. There are those who might only know his work as a gypsy jazz guitarist and others who remember him from his long tenure with Wichita's Ophil. That group's heavy roots, he says, do remain an influence on his guitar playing, as heard on the song "Just A Fool."
“In the mid to late ‘90s I was rocking out all over Wichita and all over the Midwest with Ophil," he says. "We were Wichita’s first ska band. We were new because we had a new sound, but we were definitely a third wave ska band, so we had that metal influence.”
Marler continues to explore new musical territory on the album with “Moon on a String,” which features elements of Dixieland jazz.
“I wanted something swingy, fast and upbeat,” he says. “And the chords to the tune just lend themselves so well to a Dixieland feel.”
“The Dixieland thing is something I had never even tried,” he adds. “It just sounded like it needed it. It just made sense, so we called the horn players in. They did their thing and I was just grinning from ear to ear.”
No matter what style he's working in, he says, one thing remains consistent--his inspiration.
“My wife doesn’t believe me but the majority of the songs on this album are about my wife," he says. "She can’t accept the fact that I’m writing tunes about her. But everyone has to have their muse and she’s a good one for me.”
Shane Marler celebrates the release of Just A Fool Friday evening at The Artichoke.
Music: “Just A Fool,” “Moon on a String,” and “Desperately.”