DREW MORRISON AND THE DARKWOOD – Electric-Notes Wild (Storm Cloud SCCD002)

Electric-Notes WildElectric-Notes Wild, to be released on September 7th, is the debut album from Drew Morrison And The Darkwood. It follows a well-received EP, Tales of Love, Sadness and Rock’n’Roll, released in 2015. The band have been playing since 2011 and perform regularly (they’ve been called ‘the house band’) at the Spice of Life venue in Soho at the monthly Country Soul Sessions, the session dedicated to Americana, Blues, Rock N’ Roll, Pop, Country, Bluegrass. Morrison has described his music as being for “the lonesome fugitive within us all” and his voice has a soulful yearning to match that epithet.

The album opens with ‘Always’, a strong country song about an artist he’s listened to since his youth, how he’s followed his life and how “I guess I’ll carry you always”. It’s the only song I can think of that captures how the artists we follow from our youth change our life – but it’s not uncritical, which is its lyrical strength. Musically it has intimations of several of the greats and a lovely ending where the Duane Eddy-style bass lead which has infused the track morphs seamlessly into a lead that would grace any mid-60’s track from ‘I Feel Fine’ to ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ – a nice touch for a song about musical heroes.

The other tracks on the album have the same mix of delicately played music with lyrics that have some great lines “Girl I swear, I really did care/but now when I think of you, I know just to do/ I’ve got to Keep a Moving on…cos you’ll just bring me down” or “Have you ever walked a mile in someone else’s shoes?/ Have you ever really felt the blues?”.

This has been an unusual album to listen to. I keep playing Electric-Notes Wild and hearing something new in it. I keep trying to pin it into a description that would open it up to someone who’s not heard it and each time it pulls away into something else – it’s more than Country/Americana though that’s the core of the album. It deserves a proper listen because there’s some great hooks (the chorus to the shuffling ‘Like We Used To’, the rising chorus of ‘Sad Music’, for example), Morrison’s voice is easy on the ear but still captures that ‘lonesome fugitive’ in us. The band/ arrangement are simultaneously reminiscent of something you think you know, but are actually unique to Electric-Notes Wild as far as I can tell.

One final note. At the risk of writing an overly geeky paragraph more fitting for the (non-existent) What-Hi-Folking-Fi magazine: When I first played the album on my normal set up I thought, it’s OK, but nothing more; unusually, when I played it in the car the brightness and zing of the playing came out. A few tweaks to the set up at home to move it from no amendments to tone and I found the same spark. I’ve made a mental note to try and get to the Country Soul Sessions where I’d guess you see the band at their best.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website: https://www.drewmorrisonandthedarkwood.co.uk

There are a couple of shows in London before the end of the year https://www.drewmorrisonandthedarkwood.co.uk/shows/

Album launch at Country Soul Sessions: