Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Sarah Morris - Hearts in Need of Repair (2017)

Written by Jason Snyder, posted by blog admin

The sprawling title track sets the tone of Sarah Morris 3rd LP, Hearts in Need of Repair.  Coproduced by Morris herself along with her band mates and Eric Blomquist, the gliding acoustic guitar work, tapping beats, deep bass lines, rural-kissed twang and Sarah’s gorgeous, breathy lead vocals weave a web of folk-country influences that reckon of old soul Americana.  Top-tier songwriting crafts noticeable, atmospheric peaks and valleys with the honey in Morris’ voice ringing the most out of every single note, especially that glistening chorus.  It’s an excellent introduction to an album full of brilliantly penned tunes. 

Kicking the pace up a few notches with a tumbleweed-kicking guitar trot, uptempo rhythms highlighted by a walking bass lick and brisk snare taps “Good at Goodbye” immediately snatches up your attention.  Subtle electric guitar flourishes, lap steel and three-part vocals harmonies conjure up a rich, distinctly western vibe that’s peppered with plenty of variety.  The smoky blues of “Cheap Perfume” sinks into a low slung groove with hearty lead vocals, thicker guitar work and meditative rhythms.  This opening part gives way to another uplifting country groove; shaking up the pacing and atmosphere with an unexpected instrumental curveball as Sarah’s lyrics muse on the loss of love while using interesting original metaphors for the subject.  “Helium’s” uplifting wordplay and higher-register vocal delivery offers up a unique contrast to the slow pacing, minimalist rhythms and almost Hawaiian-inflected guitar work (it too expressing much while utilizing only a few notes and chords). 

“Falling Over” is pure country.  The kind of country that they never play on your average country music stations these days.  A gritty, raw vocal performance, multi-tracked guitar licks, tough drumming and knife-edged bass riffs make this one of the album’s best cuts and one of my personal favorites.  Cut from a similar cloth as its predecessor and heavier still, “Course Correction’s” intro could be straight off of the Outlaws’ Hurry Sundown masterpiece.  With the most liberal use of electric guitar on the album, this composition places rollicking country rock n’ roll right up front.  The melancholy “Empty Seat” is on the complete opposite side of the tracks; gloriously embellish laidback, Bob Dylan-style folk influences.      

The grinding, riff-y “Shelter or the Storm” smacks hard n’ heavy in a flurry of driving, smoldering blues.  Alternating acoustic/electric guitars double down on the riffs while Sarah’s sidewinder vocal melodies and the dive-bombing rhythms catch a snarling, nasty 70s swing by the tail.  Morris croons hypnotically on the all acoustic “Nothing Compares,” leaving the album to close with a pair of dark country gems (“On a Stone” and the intricately layered “Confetti”).

 Hearts in Need of Repair thrives on stellar songwriting, varied instrumentation and Sarah Morris’ golden vocal chords.  There’s not a bad track in the bunch and that’s rare with risky songwriting that doesn’t stick to simply one standard and call it a day.  Sarah and her band can make you want to rock out, weep, dance and live.  This is emotionally rich music and well-worth a dedicated listen.

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