While Whelan has had recent success as both an artist and producer, he is smart enough to get out of Marine's way to let him do his thing. His thing is crunch and hook, not unlike artists such as Springsteen, Bon Jovi and the like--- not formula but familiar. You want to rock, Marine will give it to you, pulling out the acoustic to break the monotony (as on “I'll Soon Be Gone, where the guitar finds a loping groove to ride--- with extremely tasteful slide work by Whelan).
There may be only five, but they are a solid five. “Big Dark City” sets the pace with midtempo guitar crunch, “Dawn Come and Gone” powers up the beat, “Freeze em Out” rides the thin line between Springsteen and the Hi-Fi period of ex-Pavlov's Dog David Surkamp before giving way to the tasty acousticity of “I'll Soon Be Gone.” Marine saved a special song to end the EP, a tribute to a friend known as “Mike Lee,” who I would have loved to have known. “He died of an overdose,” Marine said on his one-sheet, “but it's not about that. This song is about what a good guy he was and how he always had your back. He was who I would like to be, the lyrics embracing the man (“If you get along with him, you'll get along with me--- and if you got time for one, we got time for three--- now to the other side of town, with the solitude you found, and all the way back again, Mike Lee”).
In a world in which you might think mainstream rock has all been done, Sam Marine makes it that much better by playing it simple, honest and true. Maybe five songs is enough. Maybe I'm just wishing for more. Five will do for now. Let's hope it is long enough for music fans to adjust their ears. You can hardly find a song out there these days without a fiddle, banjo or mandolin. This is good enough, though, that it might just break through.