29 December 2007

Plug of the Day: Gentry Morris

Today's genre puzzle is Gentry Morris. I see him tagged here and there as "alternative", "modern folk", "Alt Country", and "Pop/Folk/Acoustic". I guess those look like a coherent package (a lot easier to digest than the "Alt Surf" that I ran into for another band a while ago), but it doesn't quite click for me. I am doomed to be a splitter, I suppose. Gentry Morris is a singer-songwriter from Georgia who went to Nashville for a while and is now in Ireland. His music is a lot like the guy on the deck at the party in college, you know, the one with the guitar and the idea that he is a lot better than everyone else thinks he is. Except imagine that that the deck guy really was a good songwriter and had a pleasant voice and could play the guitar pretty well. And then imagine that he really did pack up and go to Nashville and pay his dues and release albums (indie, but still actual product instead of hot-air dreams). Then you have Gentry Morris. He doesn't write big songs about big ideas. Not edgy or angry. Just good old songs about life and stuff. It would be a big mistake to track-pick on this one, because he hasn't recorded a flashy breakout-hit kind of song. (Although I would nominate "Big" from 2004's Daydreams if I got to pick.) Despite that, the songs don't all sound the same. (And this is another thing I have learned is worth mentioning after a lot of sampling of real-indie albums.) If you accidentally click "repeat", (a) you can tell that the album is recycling and (b) you won't hurting yourself jumping over to cancel that and move on to the next album. The album as a whole is a very nice package of music that sticks to your ribs. My only hesitation in giving a complete rave is that his voice is pleasant but a bit thin, and he doesn't play it as well as he plays his guitar. It's not bad, but it's not compelling. He has a live album out of pretty much the same material as on the studio album. I don't think that the live performances are as good as the polished ones, because he hurries the tempo and doesn't control his voice as well, but I almost always prefer studio versions so weight my opinion with that. (The exception being Five Star Iris's live acoustic album, which mostly I like better than the studio tracks, but don't tell them because they probably spent a lot of money on the studio version and all the electric thingummies. But I am getting lost on a sidetrack...) I think that his studio performances are still very personal and connected, even though they are not acoustic--I don't have liner notes so I can't give a shout out to the producer for that. And, as I see I neglected to mention, the nice songs he writes about life and stuff are very good songs. He's not Lucinda Williams or Steve Goodman or Guy Clark, but then who is? He's only 25 or so, and he's got a lot of insight and perspective for a kid. I'd like to hear his work when he has had a little more mileage and his voice has a little more grit, but I think what he is doing now is well worth your time and your sawbuck.

Gentry Morris
on CDBaby.com

1 comment:

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