An object lesson in simplicity, Gurf Morlix' Impossible Blue is one fast shuffle away from pure excellence. Yet even with due recognition for this, his tenth album, the Americana Award-winning man may yet remain better known by association: collaboration with Americana master Peter Case on his eponymous debut and as a fifteen-year tenure Lucinda Williams (during which he produced two of her records).
Still, the multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/studio savant has crafted an engrossing record that belies its (overly) low-key approach, a corollary aspect of which is that the album should stand the test of time through the durability of songs such as "Turpentine." Morlix himself produced, engineer, mixed and mastered that and the other eight tracks, totaling approximately forty-five minutes playing time, at his own Rootball Studios in Austin, Texas, during which activity only three other individuals provided accompaniment. Yet, Red Young on Hammond B3, Jaimee Harris on harmonies and Rick Richards on drums complement Morlix' own vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and percussion in such a way they formulate the unity of a genuine band on "2 Hearts Beating in Time."
There is nothing flashy within such interplay because all the playing is tasteful and to-the-point. The musicians are invariably well-ensconced in a groove that deepens over the course of each successive cut like "I Saw You." Yet they also conjure a mysterious air through their performances, too, the deceptive clarity of recordings revealing an atmosphere that only enhances the intimacy of the subdued material. It should come as no surprise that Morlix imbues a more upbeat song such as "My Heart Keeps Poundin'" with its own undercurrent of emotion; the resolute but nonchalant attitude within that composition extends to both the singing and one of the few guitar solos on the album.
At least one other such bouncy number would tremendously benefit Impossible Blue, without sacrificing the its understated charms. For instance, "Bottom of the Musquash River" is decidedly more ponderous and far less sly than "Sliver of Light," and while Morlix doesn't belabor such ruminations on mortality and other momentous turning points in life, the positivism he projects through "Spinnin' Planet Blues" supersedes any self-importance (even if that alternately ominous and comforting number too obviously echoes Neil Young's "On The Beach."
Gurf Morlix is too healthily detached from his work to become paralyzed by introspection. So, the implicit topicality of "Backbeat of the Dispossessed" simply lends further proof of his hearty joie de vivre. As with so much more than initially meets the ears on Impossible Blue, that number morphs into a thing of beauty by the time it is over.
Turpentine; Hearts Beating In Time; My Heart Keeps Poundin’; I’m A Ghost; Sliver of Light; Bottom of the Musquash River; Spinnin’ Planet Blues; I Saw You; Backbeat of the Dispossessed.
Gurf Morlix: vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion: Red Young: Hammond B3; Rick Richards: drums; Jaimee Harris: vocal harmonies.
Title: Impossible Blue
| Year Released: 2019
| Record Label: Rootball Records
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