You have to wonder just how much better Gurf Morlix can keep on getting. After moving from Buffalo, New York to Texas at 24 years old to play with the legendary songwriter Blaze Foley, Morlix spent the next 11 years on stage and in the studio as part of one of the best bands in the country supporting Lucinda Williams. He co-produced Williams 1988 album Lucinda Williams (and played pedal steel, lap steel, dobro, mandolin and bass) and her 1992 offering Sweet Old World. Along the way he has played on and produced albums for Mary Gauthier, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Slaid Cleaves and Robert Earl Keen. In other words some of the best singer songwriters of this generation.
Then in 2000 Gurf got busy writing and producing an album of his own original work Toad of Titicaca (with a name like Gurf Morlix you know he has to have a sense of humor). He proved to be an exceptional composer and song stylist with really original, sometimes playful and sometimes darker, takes on life and love, winning and losing, death and friendship. He has kept a steady pace – averaging a new release every two years or so. And as good as the last one was the next one just keeps getting better.
You can tell right away his commitment to the sound of his songs, “I care so much about the sound. I obsess over the recording process more than you will ever know. Every note that was played has been considered extensively, from every possible angle. I try to find the exact placement for every part. From side to side, in the listener’s head. From top to bottom. From front to back. This is all extremely important to me. I once spent an entire afternoon at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, staring at the 5 or so paintings I thought were the ones that transcended time and space, thinking about how the mixes of my songs, and the sound of the albums I produce, could somehow represent the depth I found in those works of art. I’m not sure I have approached this level of art, but I’m trying as hard as I can”.
Impossible Blue is another success in a string of successes. For me his talent lies in the humanity of his lyrics and the perfection of his artistry with a 6-string. Every song across the breadth of his work leaves you feeling like you took a bus trip from Oxnard to Omaha and heard stories all along the way. A thief, a mistress and an old man remembering what it was like to be a child.
There are many reasons we venture out to listen to music, watch theater, wander through a museum. I go see Gurf because somehow the stories of the winners and the losers he weaves inside the artistry of his playing open up windows to me. That’s where we are, most all the way through the 2nd decade of the 20th Century – depending upon the artists magic to reveal our own, and our neighbors, humanity to us. But I guess that’s where we’ve always been. Doubly fitting that it’s on a Sunday – and in the best venue in the City of Angels for an artist of this talent.
For show times and tickets contact McCabes.
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