Usually lumped in with Folk artists, Bill Morrissey
's vivid storytelling abilities (he is also a novelist) have always had the immediacy and emotional gruff of the best Blues lyrics
. So it's not a complete shock that Morrissey's recent album for Phil/Rounder is a total dedication to the music of the legendary Country/Blues maverick "Mississippi" John Hurt, a top influence on both Morrissey's songwriting and guitar playing. While the rolling, melodic songs of Hurt might not be the first thing you'd connect with Morrissey, the connection is crystal clear after hearing the first song. While faithful to the originals, Morrissey's loving touch on these traditional songs show just the right mix of his own personality and Hurt's influence. Ideally, Morrissey's heartfelt tribute to Hurt is a revelation for those unfamiliar with the bluesman's legacy. Regardless, we're left with an endearing album of great songs done by a solid contemporary performer.
At the York Street Cafe on Tuesday.
--M . B .