True Grit

Ken Will Morton

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True Grit Review

by j. poet

Ken Will Morton opens his fifth solo album with the title track, an uplifting jolt of folk-rock that sings the praises of resiliency in the face of life's travails. In the end, it may praise the saving grace of true love, but if the rest of the tunes on the album are any indication, the grit in the song's title is the grit at the heart of a pearl, the dust that forces us to find a way to make peace with the tribulations life's constantly foisting upon us. Most of the people that inhabit Morton's songs are on a downward path, despite their attempts to soothe themselves with self-delusion or controlled substances. In "Cannot Win for Loosin'," Morton sums up the record's ethos when he sings: "The more I live I'm finding out that nothing is quite the way it seems, or maybe it's just me." The tune, like the rest of the songs on the album, is delicately balanced between tears and laughter, faith and pessimism, love and fear. "Don't Feel Bad for Cryin'" is a bluesy dirge with a haunted organ moaning in the background. The song catalogs the ways one can avoid the truth, which only makes you more miserable, not free. Morton sings the hook with a resignation that's both comforting and cheerless. "Hard Weathered Life" has a rolling country rock beat and celebrates the life of a newly clean and sober man trying to put the past behind him without glossing over the pain that led him to the brink of self-destruction. The chiming guitar of "Restless Heart" gives the tune a lively feel, but the lyric details the struggle between people who discover that even true love won't bridge the space between emotionally damaged lovers. The darker tunes are balanced by edgy rockers like "Open Road," an ode to the freedom of the open road with a driving rhythm and Morton's slashing lead guitar, "Gamblin' Man's Blues" with its big '60s folk-rock sound and, of course, the title track. In the end, Morton's belief in the power of love and the strength that one gains from facing the truth, no matter how unpleasant, infuses these tragic tales with the kind of insight that allows us all to turn our grit into pearls.

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