I listen to a great deal of new music and there is something about the way in which an album begins, those first few beats and chords, that tells you immediately when it's going to be a work of quality. "Reason" is a terrific piece of accomplished country rock, but it's also at times, folky, and sometimes mainstream pop. It's all topped off by Morrison's ever more confident and authoritative vocal. Its twelve tracks are each around three minutes long, and you are always left feeling you want more.
The percussive introduction to "Come on Rae" sets the scene, a bouncy, poppy uplifting tune, immediately followed by the title track "Reasons" which has a '70s feel to it. "Give me another reason to leave you. I'm sure you could try" tells of a love that is too frequently not returned, and at times Morrison's voice sounds like Tracey Chapman's higher register. This is an earworm of a song that stays with you as you listen through the rest of the album, and so deserving of its title status.
The paces slows a little with "I Am Waiting", which introduces a banjo rhythm in its build to accompany layered vocals and a beautifully crafted middle eight. "Daddy Don't" is an impassioned song that seems to describe Morrison's relationship with her estranged father "I don't know about your girlfriends. I don't know about your secrets" and a journey of learning and understanding about that part of his life that was not known. "Chasing girls and throwing rocks at cars" is one of those 'depth of feeling' lines that expresses admiration, wonderment, sadness, and a little shock.
"Still" takes a poppier turn, with carefully placed guitar strokes in the verse leading comfortably into chorus rhythms in support of a story about the dynamics of a struggling relationship. Don't be fooled into thinking this is an album of sweetness and light. Morrison is equally adept at turning to a lyrical dark side: "You call me a bitch / You call me rough / You call me anything you want to".
"To Be Weird" is best described as Americana pop, and provides a lift to the record, with some terrific subtle background banjo helping to drive along this song of single quality. "Feel Me" is for me the highlight of this album, a beautifully paced sad song that relates what it is like to be the other woman in a relationship "I don't want to be in the dark. I only want to be where you are" yet the introduction of male vocals hints that the pain may not be only one sided. A song of togetherness and separation.
"Hide, Hide, Hide" maintains the unhurried pace, tells of a fractious mother-daughter relationship and an awareness that something was not right between the mother's relationship with the father. The song is probably written from personal experience. There is an understanding of why the relationship didn't last and "She never loved him. He wrapped her in ruin, for working and hiding his pride" indicates a sympathy for the father in spite of everything.
The chorus of "I'm Calling You" takes an unexpected turn into the world of big band brass, and is another one of those songs with true single quality, then "Throwing Stones" returns to a gentler, country feel, which is probably where you will find Morrison's music heart and soul.
The Americana-Rock guitar of "Follow Through" seems to strike a more optimistic chord. This is a song about letting go and relates both the sadness of a break up and the feeling of freedom at removing its shackles. The verse has a feel of The Buggles' 'Video Killed the Radio Star' about it, but the song soon takes its true path into country rock, and the album is brought to a rousing end with "Bottom of the Barrel", a foot tapping song in the best traditions of Country & Western.
This album is a good listen, twelve heartfelt but rarely negative songs, beautifully expressed and backed by quality musicianship. It crosses the genres from time to time but never strays far from its country roots. Give it a listen!
|Jade Jackson: Wilderness||Various Artists: Vision & Revision: The First 80 Years of Topic Records|
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