Control by Morgan Barrie
I'm listening to Fall by Morgan Barrie. I haven’t read anything about him yet and so I’ll sit in his space for moment and try to hear his inner voice. As an engineer, myself, I can say the effect, straight from the beginning, is quite nice. I immediately thought of Cat Stevens and Bon Iver, James Vincent McMarrow. I’m now into the 4th song already and I’m trying to save my tongue for when everything is done… But it’s nice hearing an album that doesn't have me picking apart the mix. Well spaced.
Listen Here: Fall by Morgan Barrie
Now that I’ve heard the whole album and read the bio from his website, watched a video of “Control” and turn the volume down to write, I’m drawn to the sound of the breeze coming through the window, the shadows swaying back and forth as I type. It makes me think of a conversation I had the other day with a friend about nostalgia and nature. We tend to have this view that in nature things are better, as if there was some raw, unfiltered benefit to being surrounded by trees and mountains, away from cars and buses and non-stop washing machines. The truth is, nature is everything around us, be it an airplane or a beaver dam. The difference lies in the intention, the shellacked membrane that surrounds the inner space. And when I listen to this music I see and hear things that draw from an inner space, which tends to be different for many artists. So many artists are manicuring their sound or their voice in order to be sold to a certain market. Actually, every artist sits down and observes their skill-set and begins to project their ideology through that skill-set. If it's an acoustic guitar or an accordion, a dj desk or a kazoo, that voice and momentum eventually gets categorized and placed into a reference point from something else. I don’t want to fall into the trap of talking about Bob Dylan or Dylan Thomas. I don’t want to start this whole thing off questioning the mind-frame of a cabin-building extro-introvert. But what I will say is that certain lines of the album have reaching elements, something which I believe lacks in today’s sound structures. I’m craving newer sounds when I hear this album, though. I want something more than the 4 chords, the bridge and the chorus. I want to hear something that is so naked and un-cliché that I stand up from my chair.
Let’s start with the title of the album, Fall. The cover displays the reflection of a tree underneath itself, like a shadow. The leaf-covered ground implies that a great deal of trees surround the landscape, but the main focus toys with silhouette and glass. I quickly run through the titles of the songs and they ring a safe bell (The Letter; Time To Come Home; Feeling Winter). They tell me something is
in “the land of safe”. Personally, I want to hear what is dangerous. I want to hear the snap of a tree and the rumble of it hitting the ground. I want to hear the wing of a cardinal protect its nest, feed its young and rest in delicate slumber. This morning, I was listening to a band from London called The Crimea. The lyrics are so vivid and a borderline mind-drip that I wonder, now, where the roots of Morgan rest. He has a daughter. His life is changed. His life is now a representation of growth. He is balancing childhood securities with a well-paced sense of maturity. He doesn’t need to write about bad relationships or the time his date didn’t show up at the Red Rocket Café. He’s in the forest, chopping wood, putting in a floor and listening to the rivers of his heart. He examines the crops coming in and gently watches the seasons flow past like an almanac of the subconscious. This is the tell-tale of what tomorrow should be for many artists and their music.
The future should always carry something from the past forward and it is the strength of the artist to not just repeat what Cat Stevens or Kurt Vonnegut said already. We have to draw the story into our daily lives, to make the music a reality, an absolute soundtrack of our experience here on earth.
I would say that the genuine nature of this music has a great future. There is definitely room to grow, room to be again “lost and found”. But the devil’s advocate in me also waves a wand over Morgan and asks that he step outside of the security of his song structures. You see, this music sounds very Canadian to me. And though that may be a good thing, it runs the risk of being repetitive. I hear the key words and the same chord progressions over and over again and it lessens the experience for me. The first time I listen, its great. By the time the loop comes around again its like watching a movie and you know the kid gets the lollipop in the end. It’s great driving music, good music for a dinner conversation… it’ll be fantastic live. But it’s too safe.
Morgan says, “The world can bring you down…” and I ask myself, what is it that actually brings you down? When you read bedtime stories to your kids, the adjectives set the stage, but the details materialize the story, make it manifest. I want to hear exactly what is bringing you down. Not everyone wants to hear that. But I do. For me, the detail of the love, the shift in the eye, the subtlety of description defines the over-arching character of the music. This is what separates a product from an art. And I believe that it is every human’s responsibility to tap into that inner nature to define that intention. If I am told to forget about the past, I would like to know why, because frankly, I don’t want to forget about the past. I want to know what happened and how to evolve from it. Every powerful story lifts people, shows them that adversity is only one stage of the effort. Stories don’t always have to end well, but they should lift the spectator, elevate them, help us shed our skins and move into the progress that defines patience. The only thing lacking in this sonic space is depth. I just selfishly want more detail. And, Morgan, please do tell, where is this one horse town anyway? Show us that it is real. Show us that the magic isn’t in the sky, but down here touching the soil. This is what I crave from this already lovely-crafted series of works.
I’m looking forward to the next albums and the tongue that spits through them. The dynamic is here. The space is here. Now lets exceed this journey. Thank you Morgan for your honesty and beautiful picture-frame of sound.