sat 22/06/2024

Album: Morton Valence - Morton Valence | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Morton Valence - Morton Valence

Album: Morton Valence - Morton Valence

Eighth album from London duo who excel at beautifully doomed country songs

Anne Gilpin and Robert 'Hacker' Jessett

London’s Morton Valence are one of those bands music journos love, not that it’s done their career much good. I’ve bigged them up a few times, myself, starting at least a decade ago, but widespread critical acclaim has not added up to countrywide recognition. They are now up to album eight, still based around core duo Anne Gilpin and ex-Alabama 3 dude Robert “Hacker” Jessett, and their latest album is as consistently pin-sharp as everything else they’ve done. If only more would hear it!

As ever, their default setting is doomed Leonard Cohen-meets-Raymond Carver narratives, deliberately English in content, against a backdrop of woe-sodden country, wonderful broken-hearted duetting to the fore. This time, though, they’ve peppered their sound with different musical flavours, and even – very occasionally – a more upbeat feel, as on the strummed bouncer “Brand New Morning”. “It Isn’t Easy Being an Angel”, for instance, is a witty gypsy-flavoured number positing that life in a clean-living heaven might be a little dull, while “Me and My Old Guitar” is a twinkling mariachi roller.

But just listen to the lyrics of the latter, a song about an imaginary bout of fleeting success: “They say they build you up just to kick you back down/And the dogs were waiting for us as we hit the ground”. Morton Valence are at their best when maudlin and mournful; the twangy David Lynch-ian gloom of “Like a Face That’s Been Starved of a Kiss” (“I’m like a hate-filled city that’s been set ablaze”!); the star-crossed, Billy Liar-ish “A Town Called Home”; even the deliciously steel-guitar-laced “Summertime in London” is bereft with nostalgia for lost moments.

“Bob & Veronica’s Big Move”, at least, gives the hum-drum, hedonistic London couple of their debut album (Bob and Veronica Ride Again) a happy ending, a waltz-time, fiddle-laden settling down by the seaside. Sweet. The closing song on another deliciously forlorn album from one of Britain’s most underrated perennials.

Listen to "Summertime in London" by Morton Valence

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