Electric Notes Wild –  Drew Morrison and The Darkwood (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a0771291941_10There is an old adage (are there no young adages and if not should we fear for the future of adages? ) which says that you can tell a lot about a person by the company that they keep. The same is true of bands and anyone rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul McClure and The Local Heroes, Matthew Edwards and The Unfortunates or who invites members of Danny and The Champions of The World to guest on their album, are people that, even before I have heard a note, I know that I am going to get along with.

And as Always opens up the album, I am vindicated by Drew Morrison, his band and his music. A bit like the aforementioned Champ’s, there is something inherently soulful at the heart of the songs, more than just Morrison’s plaintive and worldly vocals but something sensitive and soothing whilst, ironically, often juggling the weight of the world. Or at least the weight of one man’s world. Intimate and emotive, Electric Notes Wild paints personal portraits, tells small stories that just happen to be universally relatable, is direct but gentle, romantic but restrained.

In typically British fashion it keep things manageable, people like Springsteen may have painted broad sonic Americana brush strokes to describe the nature of his own country, Morrison does the same for his through quite conversations, wistfulness and reflection. Musically the cloth is cut perfectly, the songs built of wonderful textures and interplay, it’s what you get when you put so many deft players behind such a delicate songwriter. 

Let Me Break Your Heart Tonight is such a gorgeous song, its understatement and its sentiment reflecting everything I love about this album and Sad Music seems to exist somewhere near where the M1 crosses the Mason Dixon line. Like We Used To underlines the wonderful nostalgia that beats at the heart of the record and Islands describes the feeling of isolation that threads its way through many of the songs.

Less is indeed more and even though there is plenty going on musically on this album, the playing and arrangements are so finely woven, so carefully placed, that it never intrudes on the songs but instead subtly serves them. You can be assured that if a certain note, beat or word is on this album then it is the perfect one for the job, that it conveys just the right emotion or resonance. Quality control is something Drew Morrison and The Darkwood excel at and Electric Notes Wild is the perfect example of that.

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