Album celebrates love with all its messy mixture of joy and pain.
‘Of Gods and Men’ by Lyndon Morgans is his first album under his own name. He previously released eight albums with Karl Woodward and Dave Paterson under the ‘Songdog’ name. Morgans’ songs are a musical version of Diane Arbus’ photographs. They create word stark word snapshots like in ‘The Queen Of The £10 Deal’ “She’s all chipped nail polish and cheap perfume,” she’ll pull a string of coloured flags from her coat”, and capture moments in a life of music, love, mistake, and regret, “We’ll be Jean-Paul and Simone drinking brandy and vermouth, and you’ll tell me I’m handsome, it don’t have to be the truth. You can be as shameless as you want to be, your scars are like lines of poetry to me, Mabel.”’(Love Song for Mabel’)
And these are love songs, but not youthful hymns to infatuation. They are about real life, with all its awe and joy, longing, lust, and loss. Songs in the style of Leonard Cohen; recognizing that authentic love continues even beyond togetherness; “but I’m hooked on you, my darling, and I hate that we’re apart, Christ, I hate it.” (‘A Normal Life’), And songs of the love for people. The album is a litany of secular saints; Shirley, ‘hot as twig of the burning bush’ (of Gods and Men), Mabel, Iris, Ophelia, Pearl, Moria ‘with the rosebud lips’, Peggy ‘She reckons all will be well in the end and if not, then it’s not the end.’, and Rosalyn, And like the characters of Ken Kesey’s ‘Sometimes A Great Notion’, each one comes alive no matter how brief their appearance.
And these are songs; poetry that needs music. Words that require harmony and melody to illuminate them. This is Allen Ginsberg putting the music back into Blake. The music lifts the listener out of moments of loneliness and longing, making the pain bearable and providing the means to continue in spite of experience. And it is very good music. Along with Morgans, the musicians include long-time Songdog member, Karl Woodward, who provides the Mellotron, Mathew Conner on drums, backing vocalist Colleen McCarthy and producer Alex Franklinos on bass. Together they weave sounds around Morgans’ words in a way the adds to their emotional depth.
There are songs of lost opportunities as in ‘I Am My Own Worst Enemy’, but in acknowledging them there is the hope that there will be other chances. Within the pain there are flashes of celebratory memory that reminds us that as long as one is alive there is possibility, “but if we felt like being happy, couldn’t we just be it? (‘Love Song for Mabel’)
You only write these songs if you paid attention while living. Morgans celebrates life, having experienced it in all its pain and joy. So, listen and enjoy it for as Morgans sings in ‘Little Lights’ ‘We go out so quick, us little lights, don’t you think, like a match in a storm?’