It’s great to see another product of the Minnesota music scene gaining some national recognition on NBC’s hit singing competition The Voice. Eden Prairie’s Mark Andrew (whose formal last name is Pudas) did Minnesota proud choosing the Bob Dylan classic “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” for his blind audition that landed him a spot on Team Shakira. Mark’s voice has a unique tone that makes him stand out from most other singers who get lost trying to emulate a sound people already identify with another artist. He is also an experienced songwriter and knows his way around a six-string, having studied at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood.
On his self-titled debut album, Andrew shows some versatility as he plays around in several different genres hinting at a diverse mix of influences behind his writing. The album starts out with “Sunshine,” a tune you might expect from the Jim Croce era with a simple vocal melody over folk-inspired finger-picking. The bluesy feel on “A Love Song” will have you swaying back and forth to a nice groove with vocals that may have you thinking Black Crowes. One of the strongest tracks is “Not Cold But Broken,” which could make Mark a good candidate to be a supporting act for Amos Lee.
Comparisons to other legendary artists could be made on “Impossible” with similarities to Eric Clapton’s “River of Tears”; and “Puzzle Pieces,” rich in the Bob Dylan sound—particularly the vocals. Perhaps the biggest shift in style shines through in “What You Need” with a result you might expect to get when you mix Jack Johnson with Jason Mraz. Wrapped all together in one project, the songs work together stylistically and make for a nice journey with a few twists and turns resulting in a good overall listen.
In addition to his recent exposure on The Voice, Andrew is getting some radio airplay on The Current and recently did an interview with Andrea Swensson for their blog. Be sure to check out Andrew’s album and watch for upcoming live performances with the support of Minneapolis band Absolute Gruv.