Album Reviews

Ken Will Morton

Artist:     Ken Will Morton

Album:     All's Fair In Love & War

Label:     Rara Avis Records

Release Date:     06/05/2015

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Ken Will Morton’s already been widely hailed as the best singer/songwriter too few people have ever heard, and that bears repeating here. What’s especially impressive on this album is that he not only exudes quality, but with 19 tracks (20 including a hidden bonus track) on this latest opus, he matches that quality with quantity as well. Written in the aftermath of a breakup of a long-term relationship, the album was recorded entirely at home with Morton multi-tasking on all the instruments and vocals. Eschewing the need for such modern accoutrements as Pro Tools, samples or other artificial edifice, All’s Fair in Love & War bears an emphatic grit and defiance indicative of both his resilience and resolve. Morton’s scratchy, no-nonsense vocals frequently bring Neil Young to mind (the steady rocking “Trial By Fire” sounds as if it was literally plucked from the Crazy Horse songbook), while the weary, ragged edged sprawl of songs such as “Blindsided,” “Hitting Ditches,” “Straight From Your Lips” and “Skywriting” reflect the betrayal that apparently inspired the set as a whole.

Fortunately, Morton doesn’t dwell exclusively in depression, even though he might be entitled to do so. The nifty little rocker “Riding for a Fall” and a surprisingly jaunty “Down the Drain” reflect the fact that even amongst the ruins, he’s able to summon the strength to rise above the sadder circumstance. He’s even able to stretch his ambitions and to pen a song about, of all things, a 1944 circus fire, which he delivers here under the title “Little Miss 1565.” No, we’re not sure of the connection either, but what is clear is that for the obstacles he’s forced to overcome—real or perceived—Morton’s drive and determination never falter, especially in the matters of craft and conviction.

—Lee Zimmerman

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