Monday, October 4, 2010

Cory Morrow - Brand New Me

Living back in West Texas, it's inevitable I'll end up covering a bit more music that would roughly be defined as "Texas Country," although I still consider it essential to cover only those that I consider to be truly solid artists.

Cory Morrow is an elder statesman of the current Texas Country scene, so to speak, although he never quite saw the fame that others in the genre have seen. Regardless, he has continued to make good records, in spite of dealing with some very tough personal times along the way. As the press release for his new album Brand New Me notes, Morrow says this "the first sober album I've ever made."

Part of the reason I have long respected Morrow's music are his vocal melodies. In a musical landscape where many new songwriters think anyone who can write about beer and Texas is a songwriter, Morrow understands that true song craft revolves around a lot more. Brand New Me is introspective in many respects, all the while maintaining a very positive energy and a strong redemption theme. His melodies remain strong and his songwriting more refined than ever - as good or better than 2002's Outside the Lines, a record I have long considered his best.

Morrow may not necessarily be out to break down musical boundaries, as the record is a fairly straightforward mix of country and rock, but it is solid throughout on account of the always top-notch production abilities of Lloyd Maines. Rather, Brand New Me is more about personal development and the transition to a new existence, a narrative that Morrow no doubt adds to each day.

The theme of redemption that runs throughout the album provides a picture of a Cory Morrow who is thrilled to still be making music after the trials and tribulations of past years. "Second Chance" and the album's title track are upbeat songs that exemplify that theme best on the record, although one needs to listen to the entire album to understand the more complete story. The slower and more introspective "The Way I Do" and "Never Made it to My Lips" may be the best examples of Morrow's strengths as a songwriter, standing out among the 14-song album with their strong arrangement and production.

While sometimes improperly classified as being run-of-the-mill Texas Country music, Morrow continues to write good songs that likely deserve more attention than they receive. The story of Brand New Me is not one of completion, but rather one of new beginnings, and as such, I suspect you'll hear plenty more great music from Cory Morrow.

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