Sunday, 21 June 2015

EDDY MORTON

CD Review

Rainbow Man

It's worth buying this album from prolific Midlands artist Eddy Morton purely for the fantastic artwork from the wonderfully named Tawdry Piffle. When you have finished admiring the cover then it's time enjoy the great music inside.

Eddy Morton
Morton is a class act and perhaps like the Lost Gardens of Heligan worth discovering time and time again.
In one form or another Morton has been on the music scene for more years than he probably cares to remember but he has supported and rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names, not just in the folk world, but in the music industry.
Morton is an unassuming performer who, to some extent, hides away in Stourbridge in the Black Country running Katie Fitzgerald's pub, a hot bed of folk and traditional music, and co-organises The Stourbridge Folk Festival.
Rainbow Man is a wonderfully gentle album where Morton's easy style, experience and polished musicianship comes through on every track. Morton is a singer very much in the mould of Dylan and the opening and title track is a great, dyed-in-the-wool traditional song with some of his class mandolin playing. Morton knows how to put a song together and doesn't mind crossing boundaries between Americana, Celtic, blues and folk.
With The Battle for Stourbridge Morton takes on the feel of Dick Gaughan with a more nasal/throaty grit which gives his singing a real edge. Like many good traditional folk songs, the lyrics are rooted in his home town and tell of struggle and the fight for a better life.
The Bushburys
Morton seems to be a man of many voices and In London Town his singing takes on a deeper, smokier resonance which gives it a sombre almost melancholic feel which never gets too heavy. It's a gentle ballad which trundles along at its own pace and does come across as something of a hybrid between Ralph Mctell and Leonard Cohen.
This Is War In Any Other Name sounds almost like a Dylan tribute act and if you are going to emulate one musician there are worse ones than Robert Zimmerman. As the protest style ballad goes on more of Morton's character comes through, but the real strength of this song is the lyrics and it's quite plain Morton knows how to write a song. The same applies to Emily where Morton's essence takes a while to come through but like all the songs on this album they are a damn good listen, well executed and show Morton to be a real talent.
Lord, You Ain't No Friend O' Mine is a fantastic track and if you want an example of Morton at his best then this as good as any. The ethnic-style tune is great underneath Morton's slightly Tom Waits-ish singing. It's also another track which seems to have the not-quite-sure-how-to-end-it feel and just sort of fizzles out which is a quite a natty touch.
The new album
There is an impressive range of songs on this album which shows Morton's versatility and When The Circus Comes To Town again has that gentle feel of McTell. There is an emotional strength to Morton's ballad When I'm Gone and it does remind of Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame. There is also some great blues guitar on this track and with Morton's gritty voice there is a sort of finality to the tune. Angels Never Cry is probably the most pure Moreton song on the album in that he sounds like himself the gentler side of his voice comes through over the understated guitar playing which is accented wonderfully with Andy Jones' fiddle playing. His penultimate track, On The Journey From The Schoolhouse, is another of those easy listening folk songs which is about everyday life and experience. It does have a surprising European feel to it with an accordion insert which is a nice aside.
To take the album out Morton comes up with Ghostland which seems to continue the European theme opening with a Greek-style intro. Again the intricate lyrics are carried along by the consistent travelling sound of his guitar and he goes out with the big finish through Aiden O'Brien on the uillean pipes. Morton is one of the Midlands hidden treasures. Many people know him as the founder of The Bushbury Mountain Daredevils, now contracted to The Bushburys, but he is much more than that. He is one of those people who never pushes himself, never goes for the flashy eye-catching approach but when you hear him, he is the kind of performer and musician who can stop you in your tracks.

Rainbow Man is out now through New Mountain Music.