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Albums | Morganway - Back To Zero



Ze worden (al te vaak) vergeleken met de latere Fleetwood Mac, jaren tachtig bedoel ik dan. Ook ik deed dit bij mijn bespreking van hun eerste full album uit 2019. Hoe meer ik hen echter beluister - en dan zeker op basis van deze prachtige opvolger - hoe meer ik van die gedachte afstap. Ik blijf graag vergelijken met bands die spontaan bij me opkomen na enkele luisterbeurten en ik blijf ook in het eerder vermelde decennium, maar wel met namen als Quarterflash, Cock Robin en later ook wel The Corrs. Qua muziek dus héél aangename en frisse poprock met wat invloeden uit heartland en westcoast rock, alsook folk.


Mac is natuurlijk aanwezig in de songs van Morganway. Luister maar naar World Stop Running (Buckingham?), We Were Going Nowhere (McVie?) en The Man (Nicks?) en je moet al potdoof zijn om de invloeden niet te horen. Vergeleken met het meer wisselvallige debuut is Back To Zero een opmerkelijke stap vooruit. Héél slim om het te houden op negen songs en wat mager lijkende achtendertig minuten. Liever dit dan elf nummers waarvan minstens drie opvullertjes. Bij een eerste luisterbeurt krijg ik de indruk dat de sterkste songs opnieuw vooraan zitten. Het erg dansbare Wait For Me is een opener van jewelste die je meteen te pakken heeft en Come Over volgt als een zalige meezinger. Tweemaal een glansrol voor de uitstekende strot van Mortimer en tweemaal de meest zalige melodielijnen en prachtige backing vocals. Tijdens het openingsnummer zet Terry leuke accenten op viool en daarna is het de beurt aan Kieran Morgen om uit te pakken op zijn gitaar. Burn Every Page is de Frozen In Our Time van dit album en mijn absolute favoriet: een geladen nummer met een licht psychedelische inslag, Mortimer die laat horen wat een fantastische zangeres ze wel is en Terry die haar viool laat subtiel janken. The Sweetest Goodbye contrasteert heel sterk met zijn voorganger. De pianoballad biedt een rustpunt met ingetogen zang en een viool die snijdt als een cello, door merg en been.

Heeft de band dan opnieuw haar kruid verschoten? Niet echt wanneer je ook de laatste vier nummers een kans en plaats geeft. Het is nog genieten van een kort maar leuk meezingmoment en spetterend snaarwerk. Op het afsluitende Brothers neemt Callum Morgan nog eens de lead voor zijn rekening en stelt Mortimer zich nederig ten dienste. Iets wat gelukkig genoeg mindert voorkomt om dit album. Niet dat Callum geen goede zanger is, maar wanneer je een vocaal veelzijdige en sterke frontvrouw in je gelederen hebt, moet je 'verstandige' keuzes maken lijkt me.


Ik citeer nog eens Jonathan Brick (A Country Way Of Life):

"One of Britain’s most exciting unsigned bands...they are going places.” Ik geef de man nog steeds gelijk en hoop dat één van die places een gig in BE en/of NL mag zijn.


Releasedatum: 5 mei 2023



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Following a string of singles and a UK headline tour announcement, Americana rock band Morganway released their new record, Back To Zero – an album captured over a wild period in the band’s recent history. Writing and recording took place during 2020s lockdowns and then later fitted around a relentless touring schedule; from forced resets and sudden restarts, its title track served as an appropriate name for the latest body of work from this resilient band.

Pretty early on in the process we knew Back To Zero was the title. It’s what a lot of us have felt in recent times and it’s something we were going through together while making the record. Resets can be good. They force us to change, and change leads to growth, and bands need that, too. It was a very creative time for us and for me, Back to Zero celebrates that above all else.” – Callum Morgan, co-founder of Morganway

Ferocious album opener ‘Wait For Me’ perfectly showcases Morganway’s unique approach to music, gradually building from an Americana intro up to full-blown rock with the help of SJ Mortimer’s bellowing vocals and Nicole J Terry’s expert fiddle stylings. But that’s just the beginning, with the bluesy ‘Come Over’ amping up the volume further in an ode to an independent woman. As well as once again proving powerful vocals, SJ Mortimer wrote this number, explaining that the song “explores a strong independent woman, feeling powerful in her own skin, but with a knot in her heart from life’s pressures and tribulations.

One aspect of Morganway that the band pride themselves on is that while various genres can be picked out from their music, they themselves do not categorise their output into any particular one. “All of us have very different influences and we don’t focus on genre,” says Mortimer. “Even when we don’t all agree something great still comes out, so we hit record and go with it.” With recent single ‘World Stopped Running’ for example, the gorgeously strummed guitars, singalong hook and chorus make for a rousing and hopeful indie-folk tune. Unafraid to tap into life’s deeper emotions on ‘Sweetest Goodbye’, the group tenderly touch on themes of loss and saying farewell with a simple piano and violin accompaniment, stylistically influenced by Joni Mitchell’s Blue chosen by the song’s co-writer Matt Brocklehurst.

At the other end of the spectrum, the band play in a blaze of fury at great volume on ‘Burn Every Page’. Written in between lockdowns by Mortimer, Callum Morgan and lead guitarist Kieran Morgan, they tap into the collective confusion of the time and channel it into a will to set fire to what came before. With her vocal prowess on full display here, Mortimer is also the band’s rhythm guitarist and explains that “it was written at a time when none of us knew what the f*** was going on! I had this riff and knew I wanted it to be a rocky one.

Glorious layered harmonies can be heard throughout the album – for example, ‘We Were Going Nowhere’ and ‘The Man’ allow for some fun with both the main and backing vocals, complimenting the rich musicianship of Morganway. The latter, especially, shines with an incredibly uplifting and enthralling classic rock vibe. However, the fun turns introspective for album highlight and title track ‘Back To Zero’, where Mortimer’s voice soars and every band member plays with their hearts on their sleeves for this moving hands-in-the-air number.

Although it was written before 2020, as we were developing this album in-between lockdowns and then completing it when the live scene was finally starting to return, the idea of “heading back” meant more to us than ever. As a band we were unable to perform together, we were unable to be together, so effectively the path it felt like we were on upon releasing our debut album had suddenly hit reset. Yet there’s also a very uplifting idea to starting over. Back to basics. It’s like meditation in a way, resetting the mind.’ – Callum Morgan

Closing the album is the personal ‘Brother’, written by Callum for his brother and bandmate Kieran. He explains that “some of the lyrics are so close to us that probably only he and I would get them, others are perhaps more universal regarding family and friendship.” The record finishes with a slight country shuffle, providing the perfect ending to an album exploring a multitude of emotions.

Morganway are a Norfolk/Cambridge-based six piece, founded by twins Callum (lead vocals, bass) and Kieran Morgan (guitar, vocals). SJ Mortimer (lead vocals), Matt Brocklehurst (keyboard, vocals), Nicole J Terry (fiddle, vocals) and Ed Bullinger (drums, vocals) complete the lineup. The band’s music has previously seen radio support from the legendary Bob Harris on his BBC Radio 2 show, and has also received airplay on Planet Rock, with press support coming in from the likes of Classic Rock Magazine, Guitar.com, Maverick Magazine, and Entertainment Focus. They have built a name for themselves on the live circuit with their loud and lively rock sound, and have supported stalwarts such as Skunk Anansie, The Shires and Elles Bailey, while also gracing stages at festivals like Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival, Country 2 Country, and The British Country Music Festival. The band have additionally been named the BCMA (British Country Music Association) ‘Band of the Year’ winning the award in 2021 and 2022, and have also won BCMA’s ‘Best Group’ and UK Country Spotlight Awards’ ‘Best Group’.

Back To Zero will be available on CD and limited edition red vinyl, the first 300 of which will be signed by the band.



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