David John Morris
crazy love songs
October 28, 2022
Last year Red River dialect leader David John Morris released his first solo album, Monastic love songs. It was, as the title suggests, a collection of songs of reflection and self-exploration written during and about his time in a Buddhist retreat in Canada. Filled with smooth guitars, quirky percussion and quiet experimental touches, this album managed to be both expansive and insular: Morris’ lyrics spanned continents while assessing his own place in the world.
crazy love songs is not so much a sequel to Monastic love songs as a companion piece, a sort of distorted echo through time. Upon his return from Canada, Morris took shared guardianship of a condemned building in London, a former retirement home taken over by around 60 people looking for a relatively cheap place to live in the capital. Here he endured the Covid lockdown, played table tennis and wrote the demos that would become crazy love songs.
While its predecessor was grounded and contemplative, it’s a moving record, constantly aware of the passage of time. Where previously Morris observed the world and his own past mostly passively, here he is more actively engaged with his surroundings – a necessary adjustment given his drastic change in living conditions. Opener KaraokeThe catchy melody and slightly drunken backing vocals that kick in towards the end of the song immediately convey a sense of community and openness.
The songs are built on wayward drum machines and confident guitars; the result is – to paraphrase a lyric in Pebble – both nervous and sweet. In reality, Pebble is the perfect example of the odd dichotomies and alignments that Morris loves to play with. The instrumentation oscillates between gooey and scuzzy and Morris’ writing borders on surrealism: at one point he describes himself as an orangutan. But he is also able to make direct ballads, as on TT surf school, which allows his voice – proving to be slightly quavery – to come to the fore. Here, and on the gentle swell of The carpetthe elegiac qualities of the album shine brightly.
It’s tempting to try to place Morris in line with great British eccentrics and foreign artists like Syd Barrett or Robyn Hitchcock, but the problem with foreign artists is that they don’t fit any line. For the most part, these are people with a very well-defined personal artistic talent that happens to be very different from what others do. Morris clearly has a very clear vision of what his songs should sound like, and the fact that the ones on this album are so raw and unprocessed is obviously part of that vision. The writing itself can be complex, and the frame of reference extremely broad: closer Neowise, for example, displays an in-depth knowledge of the properties of comets. And additional instrumentation when it happens (like on the shimmering, textured Like Leonardo or the heavy violin Raqiya) is expertly managed. Most of the added extras are provided by his former Red River dialect buddies.
At times these songs verge on soft-rock territory, but the smoothness is always diverted with a gloriously weird lyrical left turn – talk of convergent evolution and primatologists on black kite, for example. Or you’ll suddenly have the musical carpet ripped out from under you (the dubby echoes of Black Kite).
Ballad of Ross Wyld, the album’s eight-minute beating heart, shifts from the lyrical weirdness of Robin Williamson to the cascading touches of Robin Lane Roberts and Robin Williams’ Hook references to ultimately create a sort of origin story for the album. entire album. The song then transcends in its final two minutes, almost seeming to leave the ground as Morris finds new clarity in his vocals.
Above all, there is a sense of fun and freedom about Wyld Love Songs, all the more remarkable as the album emerged from a period of uncertainty, uprooting and potential illness. These songs, often personal and specific, show the generosity of the human spirit in all its humor, wisdom and sadness.
Wylde Love Songs is released on October 28, 2022.
Pre-order here: https://davidjohnmorris.bandcamp.com/album/wyld-love-songs
You can also commit to getting a 12″ vinyl record from crazy love songs if the campaign reaches its goal through Bandcamp. Details here.
November 6e Album launch show at Café OTO, London (with all Red River Dialect members involved, showcasing solo projects: family time)