Richly woven and warm, these transportive tales will take you away.
While Morning Bride are a band formed in London, its members come from various northern realms: the Yorkshire coast for rhythm guitarist Mark James Pearson, the Lancashire coast for lead guitarist Pete Bennett, and finally, the further-flung western Massachusetts for lead vocalist Amity Joy Dunn. It’s interesting then that they decided to record their third full-length album not only in Yorkshire, but also during the rather inhospitable season of winter.
Opener ‘The Storm Clouds’ tackles the heavy subject of an abuse victim finally taking revenge on her perpetrator. “Ever since she was a young girl, she’s been waiting patiently / Sometimes you have to put the light out, to set the darkness free,” sings Dunn lightly, belying the darkness of the story she’s telling. Indeed, Dunn’s voice has a beautiful, crisp sweetness to its tone throughout, and it lifts and brightens along its way, making ‘Just Visiting’ – a song about lost loved ones – even more bittersweet against jangling percussion.
‘Dear Hazel’ features a long and ominous introduction before the vocals kick in. “When demons are your only friends / And the voices in your head hold you down in bed / When there’s no other means of escape / No other choice to make, drowning in the wake / That’s when you have to see the light,” comes Dunn’s voice. For the chorus, Pearson adds his own vocals on top of Dunn’s, and fittingly for a song skewering organized religion, makes it into something verging on holiness in its reverence.
With rolling, lilting percussion, ‘Leucothea Rising’ mixes a local seafaring legend with the Greek myth of Leucothea, creating a honeyed tale that forebodes disaster (“The mollymawks that silently circle overhead / Like a mobile of mockingbirds above a baby’s head / A beast of burden or a weight around your neck / By any other name are one and the same”).
On the first and second parts of the title track (‘Seaside Danny Wilde’ and ‘Reprise Danny Wilde’ respectively) Pearson and Dunn share vocal duties again, making their voices come across as rich in texture as the subject matter – a windowed miner looking back on both his glory days and that of the once-grand seaside town he saw a representing such hope and promise – is intriguing.
A song based around the idea of obsession and how it can corrode the object of one’s desire, ‘Apollo 13’ was recorded long before the Covid-19 pandemic, but its lyrics are oddly fitting to the current situation all the same: “Sunny days in quarantine / We were burning up / Pure atomic energy / Feeding every touch”. ‘The Good Seed’, a secular but still joyous celebration of life, feels like the perfect way to cap things off after the journey we’ve been on.
Seaside Danny Wilde was a real entertainer who soundtrack many a working class holidaymakers’ escape to the Yorkshire coast, and that tradition of storytelling continues with Morning Bride. These songs, radiating warmth despite being recorded in frosty months, conjure up ideas of sitting by a crackling fire and watching people of a seaside town long past its glory days pass on by, and imagining all the stories they might have to tell, and that’s a joy of a place to escape to for some 37 minutes.