sat 07/12/2019

CD: Morganway - Morganway | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Morganway - Morganway

CD: Morganway - Morganway

A sextet set to go their own way

Polish and promise

On the face of it, the idea of “an East Anglian Americana collective” is a little weird, but then East Anglia’s an area that’s historically been host to a lot of Yanks and it was from one of the USAF bases that the late great Paul Oliver, the British polymath who chronicled the blues in so many ground-breaking books, first heard the sounds of authentic Americana. The flatlands there may not "shine like a National guitar", but hey...

So here we are, a high-energy eponymous debut album from Morganway, a six-piece that’s been championed by Bob Harris and which began a festival tour last month that brings them to London with two dates, including one at Camden’s award-winning Green Note, whose owners have always displayed impeccable taste.

The founders are twin brothers Callum and Kieran Morgan, who between them handle vocals, guitar, lead guitar and bass, and who formed their own band because their cross-genre interests didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. In due course, they were joined by vocalist SJ Mortimer, a popular music grad who invested her own money to record a solo album, Nashville Sessions, in Music City; fiddler Nicole Terry; Matt Brocklehurst on keyboards; and Ed Bullinger on drums.

Callum describes Morganway as “a band of many influences” and the promo pitch is Fleetwood Mac-meets-the Eagles and Bruce Springsteen, though I personally don’t hear too much Eagles. Tom Petty maybe, but Fleetwood Mac is the most obvious comparison (on “Hurricane” particularly), not least because of the line-up. It’s a big sound with an “as-live” feel, though the various textural layers and effects mean that’s obviously not the case. Tightly layered harmonies, always well-executed, are a characterising feature of many of the songs, while the instrumentation nods at various times to grunge, blues and a hint of folk, all well-executed.

“Frozen in Our Time” is the single, and it’s distinguished by strong female vocals, lead guitar and violin duelling over heavy percussion and power chords which finally dissolve into nothingness. “Hurricane” shows off Mortimer’s impressive pipes, violin and guitar screaming away behind her. Musically and lyrically, “London Life” feels very retro, those vocal harmonies to the fore, drums insistent, fiddle making its presence felt. “Daylight Rising” has a pleasingly acoustic vibe and lyrics to which there’s rather less than meets the eye. “I Want No Other Love” closes the album, bass and fiddle entering first, then Mortimer and Terry, then the rat-a-tat-tat of the snare, and finally the guys, as Morganway’s tight harmonies assert “there is no other love, there is no other love”, on and on, over two chords and an ostinato bass until the song’s abrupt conclusion, distort and fade.

This is a musically polished debut that holds the promise of an exciting future. Videos suggest a good live act – but the lyrics could perhaps do with a bit more attention.




A big sound with an 'as-live' feel... Tightly layered harmonies are a characterising feature of many of the songs

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters