SOME RECENT REVIEWS
After All These Years is the debut recording from Alaska-based singer-songwriter Don Morrell, but he is by no means a rookie. He is a veteran of the 1980s New York club scene, where he carved a reputation as a songwriter and guitarist. Morrell has a strong voice, a kind of classic rock 'n' roll country croon with an attitude simmering just below the surface. He rides the fence between country and rock very well, allowing himself to dive fully into country on songs like the twang-filled "Start All Over Again" and into rock on "It Ain't Paradise." Morrell's wife Linda, who also co-wrote "Start All Over Again" and the upbeat love song "Since Your Love Came Calling On Me," sings harmony on all but three tracks, adding interesting layers of sound.
The title track, co-written with Nashville heavy-hitter Kim Richey, is a whiskey-soaked love song with a very John Hiatt feel to it. On "I Turned My Back," Morrell sings about moving on and being positive about the future without being cliché, which is an impressive achievement. He proves himself a skilled storyteller with the tortured "I Have Friends (Who Are Never Coming Back)," about people who died too young. Deceptively simple lyrics are the key to a powerful message of loss and acceptance. He does tortured very well in "Looks Like This Time It's Over," a song about on again/off again relationships that he co-wrote with Billy Bremner, and on "Learning To Live With Living Without You," co-written with Tim Wagoner. The record ends on a very strong note with "Roadside Cross," a soft-spoken anti-drunk driving song. Morrell takes on the voice of a man who lays dying, thinking of the ones he's left behind.
After All These Years is ... one of those records that will keep you singing along, even if you don't know quite why.
by Rachel Jagt
After All These Years (Gadfly)
Reviewed by Bill Holmes
Ex-New York, ex-Nashville, and current Anchorage guy Morrell proves that it's not where you are, it's where you're at that counts. This disk is chock-full of twangy soulful takes that benefit from Morrell's versatile guitar playing and the earnest work of many collaborators, most notably wife Linda. Her pitch-perfect harmony vocals and shared verse offerings lend spark without losing the down home feel that makes this so attractive.
Morrell's voice has been compared to Parker and Springsteen, but I
hear more Steve Earle than anything else; that essence of worn leather that ages but doesn't temper the voice. Perhaps "I Have
Friends (Who Are Never Coming Back)" displays this best, as both the melodic structure and the subject matter (loss) are right up Steve's
alley. But great songs abound here (you'd expect no less from a man who partnered with Otis Blackwell) - "Who Says, Who Cares", "A Small
Part", "Start All Over Again" and especially the leadoff track "It Ain't Paradise" are first rate songs that are catchy as hell and
deserve wide acclaim.
Stu Schulman plays the jack-of-all-trades, adding guitar, keyboards and slide to spice up the goings on; his slide work on "Learning To Live Without You" sounds like David Lindley and Stevie Ray Vaughan were blended into one pair of hands. Kudos also to Joe Warner's organ on the title track and George Bradfute's organ playing on the bluesy "I Turned My Back". Besides Linda and Kim Richey, other guests include the great Billy Bremner, who co-wrote three of the tracks (and plays on one). Gadfly strikes again - seek this one out!
©2000 Bill Holmes
Don Morrell - After All These Years [Gadfly Records]
A veteran of the New York, Nashville and in later years Anchorage Americana scene, Don Morrell is a very gifted songwriter and musician. You know, the kind of singer/songwriter you very seldom hear or read about, but once you hear his record, it becomes an instant friend, a long lost scrapbook you pull out every once in a while. After All These Years is such a record. Full of classic Americana/soulful pop/rock like a vintage John Hiatt record. From the catchy "It Ain't Paradise", "A Small Part" and "Start All Over Again" to the sad, mellow feel of "Looks Like This Time It's Over", "Learning To Live (With Living Without You)" and "I Turned My Back", every track is solid as concrete, with a tight band to back up his honest voice and the beautiful duets with wife Linda as high points. Although most of the songs are co-written (with folks like Billy Bremner, Kim Richey and others), my favorite track so far is the closing track, "Roadside Cross", where Morrell comes across as a mix between Michael McDermott (remember him, anyone?) and Bruce Springsteen. All in all a very impressing debut, and Don Morrell is a songwriter I will follow closely in the future. You should too. Henning
MUSIC WATCH Don Morrell - After All These Years (Gadfly 252)
Gadfly Records seem to have a knack of finding very rootsy sounding rockers, and once again they have come up trumps with Don Morrell. The sound is part Graham Parker and part Springsteen [the less bombastic part, natch], with a dash of white soul boy. Morrell's band sounds hot on this CD, a tight unit ably backing up their boss in a collection of songs written with a range of collaborators, including guitar hero Billy Bremner and Morrell's wife Linda, who also duets and provides backing vocals throughout the album. The title song is a cracker, as is IT AIN'T PARADISE and the almost spiritual I HAVE FRIENDS (WHO ARE NEVER COMING BACK) leaves a deep sense of loss [of friends, the past etc.] behind its dying seconds. This is another great album by an artist who deserves to be much more widely heard. reviewer: John M Peters.
"Unplugged Love Story" By J. Mark Dudick Daily News Entertainment Editor
"That microphone, those amps, the electricity -- they're like a wall between the musician onstage and listeners in the audience."
Most entertainers are scared to death to tear down that border. Maybe Greg Brown or Leo
but not many others ever perform completely unplugged. ''Completely'' means no amplification whatsoever, not the
overly microphoned MTV stuff. Don and Linda Morrell made that leap Friday
in a benefit performance for an American Red Cross open house. Even drummer Billy Neumeister kept the beat with brushes on a lone snare. Stu Schulman did use a baby amp to spruce up his twangy slide and finger-picking, but it didn't detract from the warm vibe."
" Don strummed a black acoustic guitar, and Linda's backup vocals seared through the melodies -- unenhanced. The foursome played cuts from Don's new CD, ''After All These Years,'' reminiscent of the roots rock of the Plimsouls, solo Peter Case or Alejandro Escovedo."
" ... His vocals are spontaneous and don't always follow the lyrics note for note. That's part of the energy that infused the set -- their harmonies chased then caught each other and entwined. Singing aside, their shared looks steamed up and transcended the stage. These guys are in love."
POWERSOUND by Bob Powers
" Don Morrell has been one of those talented performers who can please a live audience..."
" Morrell's first CD for the ever-busy Gadfly Records is "After All These Years," certainly a good title after his experiences as a musician. The dozen tunes, all written by Morrell with occasional co-writers show clearly that his is a talent that deserves wider recognition."
" ... Morrell proves that he's a writer of extraordinary talents."
After All These Years (Gadfly)
by — Scott Christiansen
" From the opening twangy strains of “It Ain’t Paradise,” Don Morrell’s Gadfly Records debut sounds familiar. These are songs that tread down beaten paths — which is not to say that it’s boring; I’d gladly follow Morrell down those roads again."
" ... you get Morrell’s guitar, which is reminiscent of Roger McGuinn’s, and first-person story-songs about starting anew."
" Morrell harmonizes with his wife Linda on nine of the twelve tracks, and she’s out front for a few brief but golden moments on “Start All Over Again.” I hope we’ll hear more from her in the future. As for Don, if there’s any justice in this world he’ll get nods from programmers at the handful of adult contemporary radio stations that have the balls to venture beyond industry-approved top 40."
Artist Summary: Don Morrell
Singer-Songwriter puts together edgy Roots pop with catchy guitar work and a knowing drawl. Backing female harmonies add an air of soul to this relaxed, loose, bar-friendly Americana. Similar Artists: John Hiatt, Rockpile, Joe Ely
What some CD buying fans are saying: Fans at Amazon