Title - 'All's Fair In Love & War'
Artist - Ken Will Morton
An accomplished singer/songwriter based in Athens, GA, Ken Will Morton might still be one of those musicians that you might not have heard of yet - but you soon will do. The kind of musician who still seems content, for now, to exist within the undercurrent of the business, knowing that his time in the main beams of the spotlight will come sooner, rather than later.
Morton's music, for the uninitiated, is rock with elements of Americana, roots, folk and blues, and here on All's Fair In Love & War, Morton not only writes all his songs, but plays all the instruments on the album too. Ergo, the accomplished singer/songwriter, with the unassuming approach, is beyond deft at his craft; which is a rare commodity in this profession.
Speaking freely through his lyrics, Morton's raspy vocal has a troubadour tone to it, sounding much like a weathered always-on-the-road musician would - although a lot younger version, of course. All's Fair In Love & War is Morton's 7th full-length release since he began this journey in 2003 with his debut Rock 'n' Roll's Hands. Following on from 2012's critically-acclaimed Slow Burn, the new recording consists of 19 brand new songs along with, wait for it ... wait for it ... be patient ... a hidden track!
The infectious high hat intro to 'Long Gone Daddy' is just the most perfect, harmonica-driven track to kick this party off. That's backed by the laid back Southern crawl of 'Blindsided,' the mid tempo storytelling of 'Straight From Your Lips,' the slow burn of both 'Skywriting' and 'Contact,' and then the Country twang of 'Riding For A Fall.'
The gentle, gravel-vocalized slide of 'Vestiges Of You' is a beautiful song, and perhaps one of my go-to favorites on this seventh album. That's backed by the fun 'Down the Drain,' ("I always play the fool, You help me with my act"), the grey vibe of 'Reach Forward' (which you can hear Springsteen singing on The River), and then the playful guitar and harmonica battle of 'Good Lord Willing & The Creek Don't Rise.'
The methodically paced 'The Way It Goes' and 'Trial By Fire' are next, and are backed by the drum-led 'Little Bird,' 'Hitting Ditches,' the oozing harmonica work of 'Falling From Grace,' and yet another stand out cut, the playful 'Conversation in a Bar.' Morton's incredible storytelling truly comes to the fore once again on the sad 'Little Miss 1565,' before the expansive album wraps up with the tremendously upbeat 'A Wave,' and then comes full circle on 'Hard Feelings.' [FYI - The hidden track comes in a couple of minutes after that last song has ended, and is well worth the wait, trust me. It's actually the title track and is a crackin' track!]
Morton's music is, at times, infectiously fun with lyrics that say something, vocals that convince you that he knows what he's talking about, and a musical back beat that never once let's the listener think of not listening. As mentioned before, that's down to Morton playing all his own instruments on this album, such as guitars, bass, harmonica, $20 garage sale keyboard, and even a child’s xylophone! Placing them all over a bed of prerecorded drum track loops from the internet, adapting each song to fit a corresponding drum track, you can guarantee that no Pro Tools were used on this record. Now, isn't that refreshing!
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk