EDISON GLORIETTE - JESS MORGAN
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 21st October, 2016.
Genre: Folk, Americana, Acoustic, Singer-Songwriter
Band: Jess Morgan, HP Gunderson, Noel Dashwood, Ben Savage, Hannah Saunders and Stephen MacLachlan,
Location: Norwich, UK
Record Label: Drabant Music (Independent)
One of the most exciting things about running LCM is meeting and getting to know musicians on their musical journey and watching them mature into very special singer-songwriters. One perfect example would be Jess Morgan who releases her excellent fourth studio album 'Edison Gloriette' on the 21st October. I was delighted when Jess deservedly won Best EP of the year for 2015 at the annual Fatea Awards for her most excellent 'The Bournemouth EP' and this new album continues the high quality songwriting, arrangements and musicianship. It also jointly won our 2015 LCM EP of the year. If you are looking for comparisons this new album has a real 'Anais Mitchell' feel and vibe. Jess is a hard-working Norwich based troubadour and a wonderful example of an independent artist in today's music world.
‘Edison Gloriette’ is a collection of 11 songs inspired by folk, americana, movie nights, date nights, Edward Hopper paintings, romance and heroics. The title comes from two cinema names, which is very fitting given the album's overall themes and cinematic writing style. Jess recorded this album with a small team of close friends, a dream team split between Bergen, Norway and Norfolk, UK and she has aimed to bring together the freshness of her first album 'All Swell' recorded 6 years ago in Norway (on a bit of a wing and a prayer), and the narrative driven East Anglian made ‘Langa Langa’, which was released to much acclaim in 2014. Jess returned to Bergen team-up with collaborators from her 2010 debut, producer HP Gunderson and producer & studio engineer Daniel Birkeland. She wanted to record slowly and meaningfully following a mad five years of touring and rapid releases. Two weeks in a quiet cabin, alongside a fjord on the outskirts of Bergen was just the right change of pace. ‘We recorded against the most incredible backdrop taking breaks for walks, drinking beer at the water’s edge’ explains Jess. Back in the UK Jess brought on friends Stephen MacLachlan (percussion) and Ben Savage & Hannah Sanders to record backing vocals. Noel Dashwood also joined the ‘Edison Gloriette’ dream-team to add some soulful and beautifully arranged dobro solos.
The album starts with a perfect opener to set the mood and theme 'The Longest Arm'. With a lovely harmonica intro and soft picked acoustic guitar, Jess' vocals floats over the song. A lot of Jess' songs are very cinematic, painting wonderful word pictures and this is a great example. The song is about a brief encounter at a restaurant or diner in a little grey town between a waitress and a man down on his luck. The harmonica also gives hints of Neil Young. "It's been the leanest season says the bones under the layers, sticking out at all angles, the skin pulled tight in the wind.....and they had pictures up of dead actors and italian stars....the shining lights of the Gloriette".
Some sage advice next in the very catchy 'Don't Meet Your Heroes' "Sweet ideas stink like Kryptonite that slaps away the hands that make tomorrow's plans." Jess comments "I remember starting to write this song last year – it was autumn and I was touring in Scotland. I was staying in kind of an old-fashioned kind of hotel – you know, the kind where there is a trouser press and where you get a little beige kettle on the desk that you have to crawl on your hands and knees to plug into the wall in some obscure opposite corner of the room…in this song I skip from the viewpoint of an omniscient author and in the choruses skip back to the overriding feeling of the protagonist in the moment in real-time. I’d see it as kind of like the head and the heart, taking turns to speak. It’s not a way I’ve ever written before and I can’t say I intended it that way. I think the hotel just brought that out in me!” Lots of great Superman references and metaphors to watch out for in this one.
Reflecting the album's artwork, the subject of heartbreak and Paris is 'Still In Fashion'. "We know heartbreak is still the fashion, long may it never show up on time". Super dobro solo. An ode to recovering from a hangover, the morning after and waking up with the one you love is the bluesy 'Hymn In The Morning'. Some lovely interplay between acoustic guitar, pedal steel, vocal harmonies from Hannah & Ben and soft cajon percussion. The tender and personal Americana laced 'Tell Me What The Trouble Is' is another piece of quality songwriting. A song about being frustrated, stifled and powerless with lovely almost gospel harmonies and electric guitar. Next up is the piano led 'Come To The Opera With Me, Loretta'. A love theme to one of Jess' all-time favourite movies 'Moonstruck', the lyrics are almost Bob Dylan-esque at times "Your eyes were are wide as two yellow eggs frying....out of the oil and into your fire"
Another favourite is the very upbeat 'Skate While You're Skinny' inspired by CSNY three-part harmonies created by overdubbing Jess' vocals. It has Jess' trademark claw hammer percussion and encourages us to be positive and make the best out of life while we can. "Keep a number in mind. You're never in deeper than a debt in kind. Watch out for your waistline, skate while you're skinny. Strip while you're warm. Stay out of the corner where you don't belong.....always keep your lover in mind"
A great slice of Americana blues 'Red Rubies' has super dobro playing from Noel. "I would not crush your feathers, those gentle wings for you to fly......now I'd love to see you try". One of my favourites on the last EP was 'Down In Flames' and 'In Your Life' is another sublimely written classic, this time about communication and the struggles of everyday life. It has lovely soft acoustic guitar, pedal steel, bass and muted piano along with a memorable hook and chorus. "Put down your phone, slide it on over. It'll do without without the tapping of fingers....just for a moment and.....say what's on your mind". The tender, gentle and personal 'A Hundred Years Old' "Kindness and sweetness you never could stand, but I'm nervous to treat you the way you command. When I'm holding your coats, never holding your hand and ever a firm word away". The closing track was Inspired by a trip to see friends in New York. The splendid 'In Brooklyn' once again showcases Jess' wonderfully descriptive writing style and multi-talented creativity.