His first project for Lyric Street Records, it comes a full five years after his promising debut, and emerges from a period as fruitful as it was trying, as enriching as it was difficult.
"I matured so much between these albums," he says, describing a time in which he lost his record deal, went broke, lost two close family members, and witnessed a fatal accident. All of it went into his art.
"These aren't songs pitched to me by publishers," he says. "I wrote them and they're from personal experience. This CD is my life."
The process that led ultimately to The Good Life normally derails those who've been through it. Marcel hit the charts with his first single, "Country Rock Star," in 2002, and followed it with "Tennessee," a song that failed to chart but that lingers as an underground favorite. The subsequent loss of his deal shook him to the core.
"Everything goes through your head," he says. "What am I going to tell my parents? What am I going to do for money? I've spent the last ten years trying to get this, and now it's over."
He began talking to other label executives about the possibility of a new deal, but finally thought better of it.
"I decided to do it the way it probably would have been best to do in the first place," he says, "which is to write and write and write, until you've got some great songs and someone talks to you seriously about a record deal. So I went into songwriter mode again, but it wasn't like I was going out being a staff writer, writing stock country songs with someone every day. I was writing songs in my bedroom about what I was going through.
I had no money and I borrowed enough from my parents to keep the rent paid--and the rent was only $300 a month," he says.
But the hard work and patience paid off. Other artists were recording his songs--Josh Gracin went to #1 with "Nothin' To Lose," and Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes, and Big & Rich all cut songs. Through it all, he had kept fans up to date with a blog and had played select gigs, often with girlfriend Jessica Andrews.
"Mentally," he says, "it made me feel like, 'I'm still doing this. I'm still an artist. I'm getting ready to get another record deal. I'm not quitting." Finally, Marty Williams, who produced Rascal Flatts first three records, called and said he'd be interested in working with Marcel. Within a month, they were talking seriously to Lyric Street. When he was finally offered his deal, Marcel was overjoyed.