June 17, 2015

Ken Will Morton: All's Fair in Love and War Review

(Rara Avis) With his seventh full-length, All’s Fair In Love and War, perennial Athens underdog Ken Will Morton offers up 20 tracks of solid, Southern-influenced folk-rock, from rollicking opener “Long Gone Daddy” to evocative early-album gem “Skywriting” and beyond. Ever the multi-talent, Morton played all the instruments on All’s Fair himself, with the exception of the drum parts, which consist solely of prerecorded tracks found online.

Interestingly—perhaps daringly—Morton constructed his songs to fit around those loops. The tactic leads to the record’s most exciting and most disappointing moments. On the refreshing mood piece “Down the Drain,” Morton steps out to a cheery, playful rhythm. Elsewhere, songs like “Trial By Fire” and “A Wave” fall victim to their bloodless, paint-by-numbers backing tracks. (With an album running time of one hour and 18 minutes, there was surely room to cut.)

Lyrically, though, Morton is as sharp as ever, if occasionally too clever by half. Standout tune “Little Miss 1565” finds the songwriter seamlessly blending American-history esoterica with imaginative Americana.

Ken Will Morton plays the Georgia Theatre rooftop on Monday, June 22.