David John Morris – Monastic Love Songs



Pick up a map and find Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist monastery on a rugged finger in Nova Scotia, Canada, and you might notice it’s at the end of a long trail called Red River Road. . David Morris, singer and songwriter of the Red River English dialect, was unaware of the name when he requested a nine-month stay at the monastery, but couldn’t help but draw one sense.

“Part of me likes the idea that everything is unfolding in a cosmic way,” he says. Uncut, “like a David lynch– like a mystical thing going on, so I was pretty happy to see that. If it’s at the end of Red River Road, does that mean it’s the end of my musical career? “

we hope Monastic love songs rather marks the start of a successful solo journey – Morris he himself insists that it sink alongside that of his group, which is still, in theory, a going concern. Following the recording of the band’s last album, 2019’s Welcoming ghosts galore, the songwriter visited Gampo Abbey, one of the only establishments that allows its members to make temporary vows rather than life. Musical instruments were not allowed (Morris think a former ukulele enthusiast monk put a stop to it), but in the last three months of his nine-month stay, he got limited time with a nylon string guitar and composed a series of songs.

When he left Gampo, he went directly to the Hotel2Tango studio in Montreal to follow the record in one day with swans Thor harris on drums and percussion and Godspeed Thierry amar on the double bass. The result is sparse and subtle, the 10 songs on the album drift at a leisurely and peaceful pace. Considering all the attention, these 36 minutes are alluring and deeply engaging, impactful in the style of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon Where Richard and Linda Thompson just as spiritual Pour like money.

The mood is established by the openness New safe, five and a half minutes the longest trail here. It’s a floating thing, hypnotic in its shifting chords and swirling buzzes, as Morris sings that he lets go of his “belly strain” and is one with the world: “I feel the big. expansive sky / Remember there is no need to struggle ”. There’s a darker undercurrent here, too, suggested by a jarring midsection and lines on a cracked safe leaking “a lake … thick as oil, spooky things.”

wind Smile inside began as a poem of thanks to his tai chi teacher, and it provides a positive and uplifting ending to the record, even though its lyrics are interwoven with aphorisms like the rehearsal, “it tickles the paws of jackals too.” Master key evokes early Amazing string band in his oriental-tinged verses, while his words catalog Morris’s hopes upon entering the monastery: “Shave my face and shave my head / This person is dead… Please teach me to always be kind and open”.

“Rhododendron”, representing Morris finding solace in the shade of a flower above a shrine is another deeply spiritual song, but it is a far cry from the hustle and bustle associated with some religious music. Indeed, forced celibacy and hours of meditation have sometimes led Morris examine one’s own past relationships and the nature of love itself. Purple gold,
for example, looks back on first love, drawing a detailed picture of a 14 year old teenager Morris and friend listening REM At the top, “a helmet each”. The chord sequence is however imbued with tension, as if to show that this kind of “memory barrier leap” cannot be accomplished without some pain.

Circus cart is more of a parable, with the protagonist joining “a happy bunch” of acrobats, learning “how to grab a hand while falling in the sky, to dance beyond you and me …” There is also room for a charming miniature, Earth and air, and a nice take on the traditional Rosemary Way, its Jansch-inspired treatment enhanced by the invigorating and exploratory percussion and bass of Harris and Amar.

The loudest last minute of the latter is as close as we get to the Red River dialect here, and it serves to demonstrate how different this record is from Morris’ previous work: songwriting may be similar, her vocals just as idiosyncratic, albeit a bit calmer, but the introspective intimacy and the beautifully unadorned recording make for a completely different, fresher, weirder and more beast. painfully real. It exists in the moment, just as its creator tried to do.

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