Jason Morphew

Sunday Afternoon

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Three years after The Duke of Arkansas raised Jason Morphew's media profile considerably, the singer/songwriter finally returns with Sunday Afternoon, an intriguing shift of direction. The album's focus remains on sparse arrangements featuring Morphew's guitar, but about half of Sunday Afternoon consists of atmospheric guitar and keyboard instrumentals unlike anything he's previously released. The liner notes claim that the album was recorded live in bassist Rod Bryan's home demo studio in 2004, and was originally intended as the soundtrack to a movie that was never completed. Its effectiveness as soundtrack material may be unknown, but the instrumentals are uniformly intriguing, melding reverb-heavy single-note guitar lines and simple electric keyboards like a fantasy collaboration between John Fahey and Brian Eno. While some longtime fans of Morphew's more familiar folk-rock tunes might find the instrumentals distracting, laid-back singer/songwriter fare like the catchy rocker "Amanda Christine" and the rueful, Lloyd Cole-like "Drugs and Drink" are far more in line with his earlier work. Not the full-fledged follow-up to the career high point The Duke of Arkansas that fans might have been hoping for, then, but Sunday Afternoon is not a placeholder.

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