Cahalen Morrison – Old-Timey & New-Fangled (Independent)
Plucking and strumming a multitude of unplugged strings, and singing his songs of everyday living and the new dustbowl experience, it’s safe to assume that Morrison’s primary influences aren’t the landfill singer-songwriters currently clogging up daytime radio with their cloying odes to perfect love and tearful loss. His bio makes claim to a musical education steered by Doc Watson, Norman Blake and Rory Block. Add to those names others like Guy Clark (his early songs in particular) and the delta musings of Kelly Joe Phelps, and the consequences are old school country, folk and blues, though sung with the voice of the rural white working classes, rather than cotton fields and urban decay. Not the easy references one would expect from a young singer-songwriter, just turned 24 years old. Old-Timey & New-Fangled sounds like it was recorded before a small but fervent crowd, though it may just be the reaction of his excellent Family Band acknowledging the end of songs with natural enthusiasm. They’re a talented bunch, and none more so than Morrison, whose vocal dexterity and songwriting prowess matches his musicianship. The material, original as far as I’m aware, is brilliantly evocative of times past and lives up perfectly to the album’s title. I hope there’s UK dates somewhere on the horizon.