Dirty Dozen: Jess Morgan

Jess Morgan, 2016Jess Morgan is a songwriter’s songwriter. A cerebral storyteller. Her new album ‘Edison Gloriette’ – Jess’ 4th full length record was released October 2016 – is a tumbler of unfancied folk-roots music, with heart, passion and gusto.

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
From Norwich. I’ve spent the last few years touring the UK, Europe and America – playing mostly acoustic guitar and playing songs across three albums. This year I’ve experimented with playing music with other people and have embarked on my first tours playing as a band which included a tour celebrating the release of new record Edison Gloriette with a number of sold out UK dates. This year I’ve been making a lot of 7″ vinyl records in my kitchen at home – using rubber and resin to make a kind of home-made vinyl.

How would you describe your music?
It’s intimate, but it’s end of the night, lock-in at the bar, let’s get the nice whiskey out, intimate.

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
I grew up idolising a lot of those big icons in rock, pop and indie music – like Annie Lennox – Madonna – Van Halen – Jarvis Cocker. I did  a lot leafing through my parent’s CD and record collection looking at the booklets. When I found my way to Springsteen – James Taylor – Ricky Ross then it became all about the songs.

What are you currently promoting?
My new album Edison Gloriette is out this month. It’s a full length LP with 11 new songs – all stories, all somehow linked together. I made the record in Norway in a more organise reprise of the the team that made my first album back in 2009. 2 weeks in a quiet cabin, alongside a fjord on the outskirts of Bergen made the perfect backdrop to make the record.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
I’m actually really pleased to have a song called ‘Come The Opera With Me, Loretta’ on the record. I’ve played the accompaniment on piano on this track. It’ll be no surprise to anyone that I’m really not a piano player by any stretch but I do write on piano regularly – when I need a change. I think we aimed to try to track down a decent piano player to play a more flowery arrangement of the song but we ran out of time. I’m glad I was brave enough to play it myself even if it is very basic.

What are you currently listening to?
I have a long list of recommendations from Jay Chakravorty who has been playing in my band this Autumn with me – from Elvis Costello to Thom Yorke’s solo material, that I’m making my way through. I’m also really enjoying Julia Jacklin, Alwways and the new record from Richard Walters.

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
I thought it’d be something much older – but actually I couldn’t live without ‘Devils and Dust’ from Bruce Springsteen. Every second of that album is golden heaven for me.

What are your hopes for your future career?
I’d like to continue touring and making records and I hope people just wanna keep seeing me play – so much so that I can break out so a few interesting venues – even some big ones maybe – someday!

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
Jeez. That’s a dangerous question because I love a good hair-brained scheme. If I was a shit load of money I would love to continue my home-made record making project and get hold of a cutter for cutting my own dub plates so that I’m in charge of the whole build from start to finish. Then I’d make recordings of songs and spoken word that are heart-wrenchingly intimate and produce limited runs. I’d probably go to Argentina too.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
It’s boring… but the best thing is writing songs. For me a song never gets better than in that first couple of plays through once you know your melody lyrics are pretty much there – whether its middle of the morning or small hours of the night. You always think your latest song is your best song in that moment and for that tiny amount of time you feel like you’ve got something amazing.

And the worst?
Maybe it’s when you wake up the next morning and realise that the song you wrote last night is utter shit. No not really. You can laugh at that. The worst thing is easily the trade you occasionally have to make of being away for work and being away from those you care about. It has to happen – it’s part of touring, it’s paying the rent. You have to just weigh things up and decide what you’re doing. The worst times for me have just been driving down my street afterward at something like 3am when maybe the gig hasn’t paid off and I know I’ve made the wrong trade.

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
I’d say – thanks for taking the time to find out a bit about me.

Author: Rudie Humphrey

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show - The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session - playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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