Jess MorganJess Morgan
Album: Langa Langa
Label: Amateur Boxer
Tracks: 10

"Langa Langa" is not the name of either of the panda's at Edinburgh Zoo, but like news of offspring for the monochrome bears, this review of Jess Morgan's latest and hopefully breakthrough album is overdue.

The unusual title for the album actually comes from a reference in "The Missionary" which was the first song from the album to be given an outing. It's a powerful piece and one that takes a number of angles on the word mission. It also served to be a great pathfinder for the album, highlighting not only the highly addictive voice and clawhammer guitar work of Jess Morgan, but also showing her to be a highly original and perceptive songwriter.

She's also a great interpreter of songs, something that's easy for me to quantify thanks to her cover of the oft recorded traditional classic, "Silver Dagger". It's a song that has always attracted singers to it because it has such a strong narrative and it's one that has been delivered in so many different ways. It's a song that really tugs the heartstrings and Jess Morgan's version really does give them an almighty twang.

There is a simple purity to the way Jess constructs songs, regardless of their origin, self penned or traditional. By nature they sit in that region where folk just starts drifting off towards country and are then layered to accommodate the expressive and emotive nature of Morgan's vocal. She not only brings the song home, she makes sure it moves you.

There is also something of the troubadour about Jess Morgan, you feel that she is an artist very much on a journey, one that is as much about meeting new people and new experiences as it is relating people, places and songs that she has already encountered.

"Langa Langa" is such a strong album, it's hard to pin down and consistently reveals new aspects of its self on subsequent listening. Jess Morgan is an artist that really deserves to be heard and this an album worthy of a listen.

Neil King