It’s sometimes hard to remember that music was once recorded live, without the use of loops, synthetic drums or the like. This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with the new sonic worlds technology carries artists to: unlike Dave Grohl, I’m alright with a level of the artificial. My only caveat is that the person behind the MIDI better know what he or she is doing. I want Splenda, not Sweet ‘N Low.
Morning Fame has a commitment to the days when music was more organic, where every chord progression built upon the last, a ladder towards a place of music euphoria. They’re also cognizant that with life comes the lesson of knowledge. On Back And Forth, their 2012 release, the band blends previously released EP A Lasting Place with fresh tracks, laying the foundation for a future 2013 album.
The album opens with the “forth” of the collection, a trio of fresh songs that demonstrate the evolution of the band within the short span of a year. Lead track “The Colour Of Sound” is easily a stand-out on the entire collection, with its classic Americana sound, sparse yet intelligent lyrics and ending jam session. It’s a signature track to my ears, having grown to appreciate what the band is about and where their instincts drive them creatively. It possesses that iconic, enduring sound the best compositions of R.E.M. are known for. “Jokers Game” delves a little more into the heartland vibe — perhaps the bastard child of The Black Crowes and The Eagles — with its riff-roaring rockin’ time and wittier leanings.
By the time the album’s slipped into the “back” elements, it’s immediately clear why the band has chosen to re-release A Lasting Place in this fashion. Like any quality band, it’s plain that their songwriting has matured and strengthened over time; however, while the newer tracks seem more self-assured in their polish, the older tracks remain diamonds in the rough. The order’s shuffled slightly from the original EP release as well — again, a sign of a reflective eye and ear, seeking that perfect balance. Of note is “Blinded”, a poignant, lyrically sparse number that evokes a sense of sorrow and compassion for those falling on hard times. While nothing is spelled out, my mind carries me to the darker corners of the city, where every hour can be a war waged for survival. “Stranger” feels like the opposite side of the coin, the sense of standing in the shoes of the one forgotten and abandoned, while “Time” steps towards the terrain of a Near-Death Experience — a life or death decision on par with Passion Pit’s stunner “Where We Belong”. Thematic ties loose as these lend cohesion often more than the more deliberate concept albums so popular of late.
Back And Forth ultimately serves as a warm introduction to a band with keen insights into the composition of enduring soundscapes. At turns melancholy and mild, buoyed back to the light with a firm rocking hand, it’s a solid album of tracks meant to evoke contemplation on an evening drive. And like that drive, there is no sense in reversing. Here’s to anticipating the future forward thinking of Morning Fame.
Highlights: “The Colour Of Sound”; “Jokers Game”; “Time”; Turn To Stone”; “Blinded”
Final Grade: A-
You can snag a free copy of Back And Forth by sharing this review on social media or entering via our handy entry form. Head over here to learn all about our fantastic prize pack for CMW 2013.