If you’re looking for the next big Shires-sized thing in British country music, start looking at Morganway and put your money on it, or at least hand some over to them for this magnificent EP.
Hailing from Alan Partridge country of North Norfolk, but influenced by their American equivalent towns, Morganway take their name from the Morgan twins who lead the band. Callum is on acoustic and Kieran is on lead guitar, and they surround Yve Mary’s vocals.
Morganway would be a perfect opening act for Dexeter, as Yve Mary is very much in the Deanne range. Matt on keyboard and Simon on drums make a competent rhythm section. The production is outstanding, as if every instrument has been recorded live and left alone in post-production. The mix is also brilliant, especially when the fuzzy guitar tones are buried in the mix or are let loose to ride over everything else.
Their first EP No Tomorrows, from 2016, was exceptional, especially the track Hearts of Fire. This EP, with four new songs, builds and improves on the Morganway way.
My Love Ain’t Gonna Save You has been playlisted on Chris Country, which could make it the band’s breakout hit. Let’s hope so. The song starts with an echoey guitar, then the vocal comes in with Yve Mary and Callum singing in harmony. The post-chorus guitar line (duh-duh-duh-duh!) is hooky and keeps the listener engaged, as the singers sing about ‘the greatest deepest love affair’ in verse two. As with the first EP, the Fleetwood Mac comparisons are both easy and apt.
Devil’s Canyon has a great stomp, a wonderful vocal pushed very high in the mix and a killer chorus. The outro, which repeats the title many times, is very good too.
London Life is punchier, from its opening guitar stabs. There’s tambourine on every beat and great lyrics: ‘People judge you for all the things you like’ is a great line as is ‘You promised the world and she gave you a son’. Any other band would have made this the single, but the fact that My Love… was chosen is testament to the depth of their songwriting.
The EP’s title track, Hurricane, takes its guitar sound from the Neil Young song Like a Hurricane, as Yve Mary sings ‘Hold on, I’m heading for a hurricane…Hit me like an avalanche’. Is it about sex? The magic moment is three minutes in when Matt’s piano comes in, but is pushed aside by Kieran’s electric guitar and Simon’s drums, with Yve Mary still trying to shout over the top of it. It’s a musical representation of a hurricane, in which the listener is swept up. This will be the live highlight.
On BBC Radio 2 Bob Harris will continue with his country show for another year, but due to his focus on his Under the Apple Tree project he relinquishes his three-hour Saturday-into-Sunday show, which spotlights Americana and roots music, in March 2017.
The biggest compliment one can pay Morganway is that they would have fitted snugly in a Bob Harris Sunday show. Expect them Under the Apple Tree soon.