Marcus Foster has friends in high places.
The London-based singer/songwriter-cum-sculptor counts Twilight phenomenon R-Patz among his childhood buds; Mumford & Sons band member Ben Lovett endorses Foster through his label Communion; and Charles Saatchi purchased a Foster-made artwork once.
Foster himself evokes Tom Waits and Bob Dylan as influences on his "nu-folk" EP Tumble Down, and on his forthcoming album.
However, at this intimate gig in one of London's most charming venues, Foster shows that name-drops and comparisons should be left at the door – despite a somewhat shaky start. He enters nervously, fidgeting with the strap of his acoustic guitar, and his mutterings get lost somewhere between the band and the audience.
Thankfully, it doesn't last, and he soon silences the small, sold-out gathering with the soaring opener "I Don't Mind", supported deftly by gentle drums and double bass. It's followed by the urban lament "Shadows of the City", complemented beautifully by his remarkable vocals, adorned throughout with poignant, wavered intensities. "Rushes and Reeds" (which he mischievously says "may or may not" make the album) offers a thumping blues tangent, showcasing Foster's range of style, which is later reinforced by delicate harmonies on "The Room".
Foster's songs are endowed with a musical maturity that belie his 24 years, but he doesn't take himself too seriously: "Is that the right key?" he smiles in the quiet before "I Don't Need to Lose You to Know". Admitting that it isn't somehow leads to a declaration of his availability to perform at "circumcisions and weddings". His band is in stitches, just as they were 10 minutes earlier during his impromptu and inexplicable mini-rendition of Reel 2 Real's "I Like to Move It".
Remarkably talented and excitingly different, Foster shows he's worth the celebrity endorsements. And proves he doesn't need them either.