Upon first hearing Jess Morgan back in 2013, this writer was totally won over by the quality of her storytelling and her spikey, claw-hammer guitar style. She’s a songwriter who lives her craft truer than many of her contemporaries – constantly touring, recording, plotting, scheming, even making her own vinyl. Edison Gloriette, her fourth album, has her on excellent form.
As ever, Morgan's stories take you into other worlds. The comically dark Red Rubies, which brilliantly describes the act of going full Ozzy Osborne on some poor sparrows in the summer, or Come to the Opera With Me, Loretta, a piano ballad about a man trying to save an ailing relationship – and also, you feel, trying to convince himself to be a better person.
It’s the final song of the record that’s the real stand-out, and probably Morgan's best song to date. In Brooklyn adds its name to the canon of great songs about New York City. It’s a beautifully recognisable love song about how a relationship begins, grows, blooms and changes, with the city an omnipotent backdrop. Starting out with a couple’s sleep interrupted by the shuffling feet of their firstborn coming into the room, the rest of the song unravels as a dream sequence of sorts. 'Thinking ‘bout back when, we were living in Brooklyn.' It’s a really simple lyric but carries so much weight in the context – longing and bittersweet, but satisfying too. Three verses, three choruses and a guitar solo; that’s all it is, but you're drawn so completely into the world of the relationship – it’s magic.
Sonically, there’s a little more going on on this record than on Morgan's previous, but the songs could still take more. Compare with the incredible production on Anais Mitchell’s Young Man In America, Laura Marling’s Short Movie, or Hiss Golden Messenger’s Heart Like A Levee; three songwriters whose early records are stripped back, but who’ve experimented with different sounds as they’ve developed. Morgan is their equal, make no mistake – we’d love to see her move in a similar direction.
Listen to: In Brooklyn, Come To The Opera With Me Loretta, The Longest Arm