WHEN Marlon Williams announced himself to Australian audiences with his 2015 self-titled debut album all the necessary ingredients were there for a remarkable career in alt-country.
He had a croon reminiscent of Roy Orbison, the dark intensity of Johnny Cash and songs like Dark Child that carried the emotional weight to unsteady the most cynical of ears.
The 2018 follow-up Make Way For Love, written in the aftermath of his break-up with fellow acclaimed Kiwi artist Aldous Harding, was a natural progression of Williams' nostalgic sound.
The 31-year-old's third album My Boy throws out any notion of pigeon-holing his sound.
Of course Williams' voice maintains its nostalgic quality. It belongs in an era of sepia-toned photographs, but it's become more playful.
Unlike some past efforts, Williams hasn't rested on the quality of his voice to provide the emotion. The instrumentation and arrangement have become far richer.
My Boy finds Williams exploring the potential of his songwriting down various genre paths. The opening title track bounces straight out with a sunny mix of acoustic guitars and drums and "do do do do" to have Williams loving life.
Don't Go Back channels a similar vibe with the funkiest melody ever uttered from Williams' lips.
Some of the album's upbeat spirit can be contributed working with new musicians in LA-based drummer Paul Taylor (Feist), bassist Cass Mitchell (Ladyhawke, Tiny Ruins), producer Tom Healy on guitars and synths, and Elroy Finn (Crowded House) on drums and percussion.
There's still touches of Americana and goth-country on Easy Does It and Soft Boys Make The Grade, but Williams has also dabbled with synths and programmed beats for the first time.
The impressive River Rival, begins life with tense energy before exploding into a rich harmony. My Heart The Wormhole is another synth journey.
My Boy is undoubtedly the best album Williams has released, and his happiest.
This boy has always been brimming with potential and it's finally coming all together.