REVIEW: William Michael Morgan – ‘Vinyl’

14291913_1421618097854686_4773602660867622863_nThere have been very few car journeys since March where William Michael Morgan’s EP hasn’t been the musical backdrop. When we first heard those glorious six tracks we were blown away. Since then, we have shouted about him at every opportunity. We were delighted to hear ‘I Met A Girl’ on US country radio when we visited recently and have followed the increasing buzz that this guy has built up over the last few months.

It was inevitable that a country singer with so much quality would break and break big. ‘Real Deal’ is a term that is often over-used. Not here. We now have the opportunity to review his debut album. It will be a short review. Just buy it. You won’t regret it. It is one of the best country albums of the year. It may also be one of the best country albums of the decade.

If you haven’t got to grips with the EP this album will be an absolute treat. If you have already learned every word of the six tracks released previously, it will be less of a treat as they are all included in the eleven songs on offer here. “Less of a treat” is relative however.

There was always a certain irony that the song that introduced William Michael Morgan to the country world was a song co-written by Sam Hunt. The man who is now considered by many as the potential saviour of traditional country music singing a song co-written by someone who is often blamed for its perceived demise. Sam perhaps didn’t intend it be quite so country but with the assistance of producers Jimmy Ritchey and Scott Hendricks, we have now embraced it as a future country music standard.

The true test of a classic is the enduring joy of hearing that sublime introduction even though it may be the hundredth time you have heard it. ‘I Met A Girl’ is that song. Morgan has inadvertently become the figure head of the traditionalists who wish to see a return of authentic country. Not because he uniquely recreates the sound, but because he has recreated it whilst appealing to the mainstream market. He is a major label artist who has delivered an album that isn’t anything other than pure country. Let’s hope that he feels that he can live up to the hype because this guy will have a lot of it coming his way. If you are even remotely interested in spreading the country gospel this is the singer to put on the pulpit.

Back in the day here in the UK we embraced mainstream country artists such as Kenny Rogers, Charlie Rich and John Denver. They were the ones who had top 30 hit singles and country was mainstream. We now have the chance to embrace someone who is young, engaging and hopefully will continue producing great country music for many years to come.

It will be churlish to select highlights. Any of the eleven songs here would highlight most other albums released recently. Let’s be honest. Some are very special – one of the ‘new’ tracks we must mention is ‘I Know Who He Is’, a song that deals with a subject very personal to many and will touch those that have relatives who have suffered Alzheimer’s.

‘Spend It All On You’ is a country song that tells the traditional tale of the guy who wants to spend time with the girl of his dreams. It has very soulful vibe to it. Imagine this song without the slides and it could have appeared on a George Benson album back in the eighties.

There are already comparisons with George Strait which may be premature and it will be interesting to see how the future career development will remain by the big label influences. However, that’s for another day; let’s embrace what we have. What we have is a superb country album from a guy who massively deserves our support.