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Morlix overcomes album covers

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., May 20, 2015

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Guitarist Gurf Morlix seemed ultra concerned when talking about his CD covers. Who could blame him when the two of his album covers - the just released "Eatin' At Me" and "Toad Of Titicaca" - received their share of criticism, which had nothing to do with the music contained therein? In fact, Morlix pointed out that he made the "Shit Record Covers Hall of Fame") on Facebook.

He seemed to wear his "induction" as a badge of honor almost.

While one suspects that the artist doth protest too much ("Eatin' At Me" features a cowboy hat sitting atop an insect-infested log against a lime green background while "Toad of Titicaca" depicts Morlix with his head barely above water), fortunately, for him, he can always fall back on his songs.

Morlix, probably best known as Lucinda Williams' guitarist for 11 years and producing two of her albums, was solo acoustic (while also stomping on a piece of wood at times for percussive effect) for the evening. And this was a rare evening indeed as Morlix was playing Boston on his own for the second or third time in 10 to 15 years!

His MO was one of being on the low-key side, chatty in introducing a chunk of the material with a few good stories and then playing the songs for what they were worth. His demeanor was not of being rushed, but, instead, relaxed. He altered between roots sounds, the blues, gospel (an on target cover of The Blind Boys of Alabama's "The Last Time") and Celtic (a centuries old song, "The Parting Glass" closed the night out).

Morlix pointed out that "Eatin' At Me" contained a chunk of songs about his upbringing in the Buffalo area, a city his family rarely went to despite living in a nearby suburb. He also referred to the grime and pollution of Buffalo (when you call a song "Dirty Old Buffalo," it's pretty clear where your thinking lies) affecting peoples' lungs and housing. Morlix said many considered his songs downers even if he did not.

He wasn't given to painting pretty pictures with his lyrics, and his somewhat sandpapery sounding voice fit well with the subject matter. It's hard to consider a song like the opener "One More Second," introduced as being about murder and revenge and how they to together sometimes, as anything but a downer.

Morlix interspersed the music with enough light moments and songs that had some pacing (a very good cover of Ronnie Self's "Waiting For My Gin to Hit Me," which was done by The Skeletons) to avoid being mired in the blues. There's certainly enough there to like about Morlix's music. Now, about them album covers...