With a rich, silky voice and the crushingly honest lyricism to match, Marcus King has made a clear name for himself at the intersection of country, Americana, and soul music. After getting nominated for a Grammy for his previous album El Dorado, Marcus King is back for more, with even more honesty and vulnerability. The album comes as a collaboration with famed producer Rick Rubin, recorded at Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios in Los Angeles. Rubin’s touch, and flair for transcendental meditation, changed the way Marcus King approached making art for an audience. The result is an exceptional album.


King starts off his newest album Mood Swings, released April 5, with a clear statement of the album’s tone: the first song and title track “Mood Swings” starts “and I think that is the part of hell that a person in depression really tastes, the hopelessness, the terrible hopelessness.” The album becomes a window into the hardest moments King has felt to date, spanning situations from substance abuse to mental health to heartbreak. With the power of music, and the help of Rick Rubin, these hardships are transformed into beauty, showing the true power creativity can have for a creative.

In support of the press for the new album, I had the opportunity to speak with Marcus King and ask him about his writing process in the context of these varied hardships he’s experienced. 


Sky: “You’ve mentioned before that you’ve been able to channel really difficult mental health struggles into creativity and writing inspiration. Looking back on the now finished album, what do you think the process has taught you?”


Marcus King: “Oh, that process is really an important one to me and I felt like I had to kind of break some bad habits as a writer as far as writing for the listener instead of writing for myself. It’s really gratifying that this album has received the attention that it has because it’s really the first time that I’ve disregarded entirely what the audience may think about the record and just do it because I needed to do it. So it’s gratifying, thank you.”


This shift inward, as opposed to outward towards the audience, is palpable. King’s ability to take life’s hardest moments and make them something worth listening to is profound and vulnerable. Mood Swings offers an opportunity to better understand Marcus King not just as an artist, but a person, and seems to signal a new era of his craft. If you haven’t listened yet, be sure to check out Mood Swings, because one thing is clear – this is only the beginning.