Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sarah Morris - Hearts in Need of Repair (2017)

Written by David Shouse, posted by blog admin

Minnesota songstress Sarah Morris unleashes a potent doozy of an album in the form of her 3rd release Hearts in Need of Repair.  Fantastic songwriting, knockout instrumentation and Morris’ soaring voice are the glue that holds together an upper echelon recording that doesn’t have a dull moment in sight.  There’s groove and soul to spare throughout Hearts’ 11 rousing tracks with each tune being worthy of endless repeat plays. 

The title track is a punchy, catchy opener drenched folk influence with just the right amount of countrified acoustic guitar licks and Sarah’s skyward pushing vocals.  Morris also handles some of the acoustic guitar playing alongside regular band mate Thomas Nordlund while Aaron Fabbrini contributes exotic pedal steel.  Fabbrini carries over his smooth playing to the next cut, “Good at Goodbye.”  Lars Erik Larson interjects some percussive smacks thanks to his locked on work on the snare and the band’s regular producer Eric Blomquist ladles on a third acoustic guitar for a very vibrant, full sound that creates multiple melodies to follow. 

“Cheap Perfume” enters on a dusky, scrappy blues grind that eventually alters its mindset into up-tempo country.  Andrew Foreman’s electric bass grooves furthers the high noon shootout atmosphere as Morris’ vocals utilize husky lower registers that only highlights her many vocal personalities.  The wispy “Helium” moves at a slower clip and glows like the dying embers of midnight pyre with beautiful acoustic guitars glide above the supple support provided the bass lines.  The stringed instruments construct a rock solid foundation for Morris to paint hymnal vocal melodies upon.  

A duo of harder, more rockin’ tracks appear with the back-to-back attack of “Falling Over” and “Course Correction.”  Nordlund’s electric guitar is a centerpiece of both; bouncing off the numerous acoustic counterpoints that fill this part of tunes with life and soul.  “Empty Seat” draws the blinds, blocking out the sun with a dirge-y acoustic jam that’s equal parts engagingly melodic and heartbreaking.  Returning to hard rocking abandon “Shelter or the Storm” lives up to the “storm” part of its namesake by drilling electric guitar riffs into your cranium and offsetting with just the right amount of harmonic nuance.  The rhythm section explodes like a powder keg all throughout and the triple guitar attack is at its most ruthless right here.  This is easily the album’s heaviest, hardest cut and certainly shakes up the atmosphere like a vial of nitroglycerin.  The record comes to a close with a melodically contagious trio of acoustic leaned tracks with “Nothing Compares,” “On a Stone” and the piano-slicked, epic closer, “Confetti.”  Though the music throughout these songs is similar, each one has its own unique vibe. 

Hearts in Need of Repair is an astounding album and probably Sarah Morris’ finest offering to date.  The turbulent toss n’ turn of acoustic and electric guitar and bass, the generous amount of melodies and texture, the addition of dobro, piano, lap and pedal steel as well as Morris’ picture perfect vocal stylings yields an album that’s airtight in its construction.  Anyone with an ear for rustic rock, country, blues and folk will be unable to stop listening to this disc…it’s simply THAT good.

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