Ken Will Morton – “Slow Burn”

“Morton, caustic and hopeful, has something to say about the life he’s experiencing and he’s putting it to skilled, if jangly, composition.” -HE

Holly Etchison

7
out of 10

Ken Will Morton
Slow Burn
November 19, 2013
Rara Avis Records

Having lived for years in or near Athens, GA, a town known by some for its music scene, the word “local” usually sends me into hiding when it comes to artists. I realize this renders me an unimaginative and unsupportive stick in the mud. The musical grass is always greener in another town? Not sure what my philosophy is, but listening to likeable Athens native Ken Will Morton’s latest effort, Slow Burn, my general feeling is that its good to know folks are out there plugging along, doing what they do, writing songs, region be darned.

The title track “Slow burn” has feeling as a barroom ballad. The guitar breakaway at the end adds some oomph to the lament on living life and coming up a little empty. Catchy phrasing and thoughtful lyrics keep you listening: “Did you get the respect you thought you earned? Ashes back to dust amen when you’re down on your luck, there’s only one way to get unstuck, put all your faith in someone else’s hands.”

Bruce‘s “River” harmonica threaded throughout “No Place for a Sensitive Man” will keep you on course for the punchy, to the point tune: “If You Can’t Find Your Way You’re Right on Course.”

“Scattershot” with its cow bell accompaniment brings to mind “Motorcycle Mama” the cutaway track on Neil Young’s “Comes a time,” but I imagine it’s good for dancing.

The upbeat rocker “Lady Luck” also hearkens another great. The thematically clever lyrics “Realize I don’t need another four leaf clover. We’ve all gotta make our way home . . . when its time the stars will align” could easily be sung along with Tom Petty’s “Hey Girl I Got a Thing About You,” and that’s never a bad thing.

Poppy and fun, “Asshole” is a happy departure a little to the tune of early Elvis Costello and maybe even a little Beatles bop. Somewhere Neil Young comes back into the mix with a little “live rust” grunge guitar. All in all it creates a happy montage of sound.

Morton, caustic and hopeful, has something to say about the life he’s experiencing and he’s putting it to skilled, if jangly, composition. His songs and sound stay solid from past projects to present. Bluesy observations on the world at large from a guy with a guitar are observations nonetheless, and these are graced with enough artistic insight to reach the “everyman” even if its via night club swing. That’s my thought, anyway, living near Athens, GA.

-Holly Etchison, January 13, 2014