I like when an albums artwork reflects or supports the music within it, I like things to tie-in and work towards as a finished package and Andy Clark’s album ‘I Love Joyce Morris’ does this brilliantly because what is hinted on the outside is fully realised on the inside.
To say the album comes across like a children’s story book wouldn’t be doing it a disservice, quite often, due to the often-narrow audience, books written for children are more complex and layered than they first appear. Sure, it won’t be for everyone, the recurring theme throughout is growing up and becoming a father and some will need some darkness to counter the sunny disposition of the album, but you can’t deny the broad canvas created here.
From impressive opener ‘Welcome To The Party’ with it’s social narrative and welcomed New Orleans jazz interlude, it’s pretty clear this album wasn’t thrown together over a boozy weekend in the studio. Clark weaves and dips into different genres and the resulting songs feel at home, the unashamedly romantic ‘But For You’, the lullaby feel of ‘Hunker Down’ and ‘Sunny Boy’, the Bluegrass-driven banjo of ‘Daddy Please’ all showcase a songwriter at ease with his craft. There are hints here and there at a fondness for music of the 1960’s – particularly within the Beatles-style piano chords on ‘Socks and Shoes’ and Simon and Garfunkel harmonised vocals on end song ‘Apples’ – but it feels correct to have these influences there and certainly fits in with the mood of the album that relies on deft percussion work as well as cleverly written lyrics to succeed.
If the album was simply one man and a guitar, based on the strength of the song writing on show here, it would have worked, but add brass, piano, drums, percussion and all manner of loops and production tricks and it flies.