Polly Morris describes herself as singer/songwriter of "contemporary and comedy songs that you will identify with". The mention of comedy songs will immediately invite comparison with greats such as Flanders and Swann, Jake Thackery or - inevitably for a female performer - Victoria Wood. The challenge is not just to be funny but combine that with a story arc and then back it with good music people want to listen to. On the strength of this album Polly Morris is certainly a writer of comedy songs but also so much more.
The album opens with 'Murder In The Fish Tank', an everyday story of somebody getting an aquarium to help with stress relief, only to find that the fish are being eaten one by one. Eventually there is only one left; the culprit is unmasked. I shall not reveal it's fate although folk music lovers will find it deliciously appropriate.
That sets the tone for the majority of the album. These are songs people of a certain age and status anywhere will recognise. 'Puppy Song' will be familiar theme to many, based on the earnest pleas of children who are trying to convince Mummy to get a puppy and it will be such a brilliant idea
"In fact, having the puppy, we have all decided,
Will help us do our homework and all keep our bedrooms tidy."
There are other familiar tales, too. In 'Winter Sales' the hunt for a bargain lures you into buying something electronic, even if you're not quite sure what it does, or in 'Ways To Ignore You' there are tips on giving a partner the silent treatment in the digital age. There's Facetime, Email, Skype, Twitter or even letter if you want to be really old-fashioned.
The lyrics are clever and complex in a Gilbert and Sullivan style and the English language is mined for rhymes that really shouldn't work, but do.
So, yes, Polly Morris is a very good comedy song writer but she also intersperses the laughs with self-written ballads of grace and sensitivity. This change of pace and style transforms the singer from a narrator into a person just like us; a rounded character who has good times and bad. 'How Come' explores the tough feisty modern woman who, behind the exterior, still wants to find love and is hurt just as badly as anyone else when it goes wrong.
There are love songs, too. 'When I'm With You' reminds us, if needed, that the best thing in the world is being with the ones you love.
The ballads give Polly the opportunity to showcase her fine, rich voice and because the words are so vital to every story each one is clear and distinct. The backing is chosen with great care, from a single guitar to piano and harmony so there's a good range of styles and tempo across the songs.
The care and production values on the album are replicated in the cover which is lavishly produced, with a three fold cover and stapled lyric booklet.
It, along with Polly's three previous albums, is available as a download from the website or physical copies can be found on Amazon. If you enjoy music that will cause everything from belly laugh through wry smiles to quiet contemplation then it is certainly worth following up.
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