Morton Valence “Morton Valence”

Cow Pie Ltd, 2022

Multi-layered enigmatic urban country music.

This self-titled album is the eighth from the London duo of Robert Jessett and Anne Gilpin. It has been produced by B J Cole legendary producer and steel guitar maestro who has worked with pretty much everyone from John Cale to Robert Plant. His distinctive playing features throughout making it an extremely fulfilling collection to listen to. The musicianship in general throughout deserves a mention too. It’s mostly understated but always doing exactly what is needed to compliment the feel of the songs.

The overall feeling is downbeat almost kitchen sink-like in its subject matter which makes it very intriguing. Almost every track seems to leave something unsaid and makes the listener want to find out more about the characters being portrayed. That said, it has light and shade, the surprise track being a beautiful flamenco feel ‘Me and My Old Guitar’, which is a song about being put on a pedestal & then being knocked off ”where their bodies get paraded through town like trophies of war’. It is jam-packed full of rich, imaginative imagery. On ‘Like A Face that’s been starved with a kiss’ Gilpin likens herself to ”a hate-filled city that has been set ablaze.”

London in the Summertime’ the opening track uses the capital as a backdrop in the same way that Ray Davies did with ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and is wonderfully atmospheric with the fusion of harmonica and steel guitar. It sets the tone of the album extremely well.

 ‘It Isn’t Easy Being an Angel’ takes you to an old smokey down at heel club in Soho perhaps. You can feel the atmosphere sitting at small tables as the violin plays gently in the background and the vocals gently intertwine.

The stand-out track is ‘Together Through The Rain’ Where they mysteriously come together after being estranged for some time & reminisce about what has gone before and perhaps what maybe to come in the future. Taking each verse in turn. It feels like a mini soap opera.

All through the eleven tracks their vocals work perfectly in harmony each taking the lead and complimenting each other throughout. If you are new to Morton Valence think of the Handsome Family or The White Stripes. They are similar in construction but with more gravitas and depth.

This is a consistently interesting album both lyrically and musically. It deserves to be heard widely and to give the duo a much wider audience for their intelligent thought-provoking urban country music.

9/10
9/10

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