Morrison’s name may be familiar to some through his acoustic roots albums with Eli West, but here Morrison is exploring his love of traditional country with his band who are drawn from the Seattle country scene. Country Hammer includes Dave Harmonson who played with Zoe Muth, Mary Maass on fiddle and Jim Miller from Donna the Buffalo (and a solo artist in his own right) on guitar and harmony vocals. Miller also takes the lead vocal on two songs Sorrow Lines the Highway Of Regret (now that couldn’t be anything but a country song!) and the duet San Luis. Morrison is the songwriter here and he writes all the song himself, bar one co-write with band member Robert Adesso.
Those songs are all strong story songs, well crafted tales as evinced by the lyrics on the sleeve. Morrison has the voice to deliver these songs with power and feeling. Over and Over and Over Again is a song which takes the pain and heartache and the eventual seeking of solace in the bottle as a continuum. The stripped down guitar and voice song I’ve Won Every Battle, But I’ve Lost Every War is a similar tale of a relationship that has died and could again only be a blues or country song and highlights again Morrison vocal and writing prowess.
A stormy relationship is detailed in Our Love is Like a Hurricane is a lively fiddle-led stomp that shows that the best country songs are trailered by their titles. The title track may suggest some latent soul influences, but is actually a song written for Morrison’s wife, who comes from that legendary area of music making. That’s not to say that this music has no soul. It has both soul and heart and that is amply demonstrated throughout, especially on a song like Through Your Window, a slow song with lamenting fiddle and steel motifs. The album ends with two uptempo songs that will have your toe tapping and your heart lifted. Hobbled and Grazing and A Daisy in Tennessee round off what is an album that should bring solorecognition to Morrison. Apart from his work with West, Morrison is a more than worthy addition to the ranks of contemporary country music.
The Cahalen Morrison exhibited here is singer, songwriter, acoustic guitarist, drummer and producer. He performs each task with the verve of a true believer and an excellence which is something that should be both applauded and lauded.