Cory Morrow

Live from Austin TX

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It's not an especially good sign when a singer/songwriter releases a live album and the two best songs (by a considerable margin) are the two covers. Cory Morrow is a popular draw in his home state of Texas, enough so to merit an appearance on the long-running PBS roots music showcase Austin City Limits, and this 11-song set was recorded during a 2002 taping for that series. Morrow is often cited as a rising member of the Texas singer/songwriter community, and on his song "Nashville Blues" he name-checks Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, and Kris Kristofferson as influences, but significantly he frequently gigs with Pat Green, and as a songwriter he most closely resembles Green -- which is to say that where his supposed influences are thoughtful and literate, Morrow is often thuddingly obvious. (No matter how much Morrow thinks he's learned from Townes Van Zandt, Townes would never have written a song like "Texas Time Travelin'" or "Drinkin' Alone.") Morrow is a good enough singer, he clearly knows how to work a crowd, and his band sounds sharp and enthusiastic on this date (especially Glenn Shankle on Dobro and pedal steel); the audience is with Morrow all the way on Live from Austin, TX, and everyone involved seems to be having a fine time. But the truth is, Morrow sounds best here when he's singing the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil" and Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?," largely because on those two songs the material is as good as Morrow's big-league aspirations for a change.

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