wed 08/02/2023

CD: Morton Valence - Me and Home James | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Morton Valence - Me and Home James

CD: Morton Valence - Me and Home James

Lovely second album from London band who deserve more attention

Morton Valence return with top-notch London guitar pop

A couple of years ago Morton Valence appeared out of nowhere with a fan-financed concept album, Bob and Veronica Ride Again, full of plucky imagination, indie sweetness and Nancy Sinatra vibes. It arrived with a CD-sized novelette and had a faintly burlesque feel that spoke of the group's background as resident band at the Soho Theatre Arts Club. It was an unexpected treat and I'm happy to report that their new one is more than its match.

Where they were a duo - of Robert Hacker Jessett and Anne Gilpin - they're now a proper band and their sound has become fuller as a result, relying less on electronic quirkiness. Me and Home James is tinged with an old-school fey indie sensibility but combined with dramatic narrative songmanship and an affecting late-night barroom melancholy. The loss-of-utopian-innocence ballad "Bad Times for the Hari Krishnas" is worth quoting at length to give a flavour: over spacey mournful guitar the tale begins: "Once upon a time down in Hanway Place/ I think it was the summer of 1998/ We danced and we chanted and you banged on a drum/ Along the Charing Cross Road nearly 100 strong/ You shouted, 'Hurry up, Harry, Harry come on'/ I thought, you're older than you look if you know that song." Such lyrical spark is everywhere - how about, "If you were smokeable, you'd be my Superking" from "If You Are the River"?

Morton Valence consider this an urban country album but, while it dips toes in those waters, it has too many flavours to be completely encapsulated by such a phrase. "Man on the Corner" sounds like Nirvana on MTV Unplugged, "The Red Rock Mountain" has the spaghetti western rockabilly of the Bookhouse Boys and "Sailors" comes on like the Big Pink. Very English, very London even, yet marinated in the wide open spirit of Americana, Morton Valence deliver 12 golden slices of literate guitar pop that deserve a large and rapacious audience.

Watch the ridiculously cheap video for "Sailors"

Comments

amazing band. even better people. Let's hope album 2 is the charm. Best thing I've heard in ages and ages.

Timeless work of art - stunning 'difficult' 2nd album.

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