The R.G.Morrison to release new Studio album 'Diamond Valley' on Static Caravan, October 2103 [VAN266]
The R.G. Morrison are a band from Devon. This new long player, 'Diamond Valley' is their third album in all and the most coherent and complete that they have managed to commit to tape. The recording centres around Rupert Morrison and features David Hart on guitars/drums and Sarah Morrison on bass. Live drummers have always been a luxury but previous guests include Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) and the current seat is occupied by David Beauchamp (Johnny Flynn, Jeffery Lewis)
Morrison's debut album “Learning About Loathing” (2008) was more of a live taping, recorded in a single twelve hour sitting in a Church. The album was the first release on his own 'Drift' label and gathered unanimously high critical praise, ending up high in both the Rough Trade and Boomkat end of year lists. The follow up album, “Farewell, My Lovely” (2010) was released on Loose Music (The Felice Brothers, Dawes, Hurray for the Riff Raff) and saw the band touring hard across the world, with shows in Europe for Rolling Stone, Canada for MTV and at SXSW in Texas.
'Diamond Valley' (2013) is a ten track album that falls somewhere around the alt country genre. Inspired like so many of their generation by Laurel Canyon, The R.G.Morrison produce rich, melancholy country rock and roll whilst managing to avoid the common pitfalls, like American accents from English tongues, hackneyed instrumentation and borrowed philosophies. In the best possible way they don't really sound all that much like anyone else. Influences are not the problem, Morrison himself is pretty much a professional listener. It is his ears in fact that run Devon's The Drift Record Shop, award winning beacon of music retail in the pastoral Totnes countryside. “I spend all day listening to music, new, old, familiar, newly discovered. It's what i've always done so it's a wonder it took me so long to realise that running a record shop was the perfect job to utilise this otherwise indulgent skillet. It is impossible not to be influenced and inspired by other peoples music, I just try and remove anything to specific from my mind when I write and when we all record. This time we all went on a serious cultural void prior to recording”.
The album will doubtless draw comparisons to parts of Neil Young's catalogue (for the guitar wig outs and 'Harvest'-esq drums if nothing else) and again to a Whiskeytown period Ryan Adams, but it's those odd minutes and off-kilter instrumentations and arrangements that will raise more eyebrows and moves 'Diamond Valley' out of the Americana genre. The synth parts in “Sweetheart” owe more to Paul Young than Neil Young, like an eight minute Duran Duran single. “Dreaming” is whispered, reminiscent perhaps of Elliott Smith (one of Morrison's heroes) before the Mellotrons swoon to the saddest crescendo, sounding more like Sparklehorse (another of Morrison's heroes). Lead single “Slumber” would sit nicely on a Palace Brothers album before the guitars get overdriven and the vocals turn up to a screaming evangelist. (It was the last track recorded and Morrison damaged his throat doing so, a few planned overdubs had to be scrapped) “Poor Cow” (the only track sung solely by Sarah) is direct from Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb country, a cow girl ballad. “The Sun” takes the album right back to Lauren Canyon (maybe more Eagles than CSN) before the “Weary” closing track, a finger picked lament from the “Shelter Form the Storm” school of thought.
'Diamond Valley' was written as a concept album, moving through purgatory on Earth and dealing with themes of dissolution, loneliness and redemption. For the album cover the band always used J.M.W.Turner as a visual inspiration and never managed to find an image that single handedly created such a sense of despair and doom as “The Fifth Plague of Egypt”. To that end, with the blessing of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Turner's epic was selected as a final image. In anyone else’s hands perhaps an image of bucolic life, but Turners biblical epic is the very epitome of Hell on Earth.
And now the band? Well one of them is busy running a record shop, one is busy being a mum, another a surgical nurse and lastly the current drummer is in hot demand across the globe; so will their be live shows? In short, they'd love to and these things tend to work themselves out. But that is all real life, 'Diamond Valley' is about somewhere else. They are all just glad to have recorded it.
Produced by Matthew Board & The R.G.Morrison
Mixed by Tommy Williams & Matthew Board at Sawmill Studios
Mastered by Noel Summerville
Press for the album 'Learning About Loathing'
“It takes puritan blisters and serious self-control to maintain this sort of melodic hush” – Pitchfork
“Raw and vital” – The Wire Magazine
“marries Satie-like piano figures with wistful graveside meditations” - Mojo
Press for the album 'Farewell, My Lovely'
“This tangibly focused, warming and reclusive record seems like Blighty's answer to Bon Iver” - * * * * Mojo
“These mournful ballads emerge, gritty but glowing. The slow, quiet songs are usefully interrupted by moments of electric guitar mayhem, but nothing is allowed to get in the way of Morrison's addictive voice.” * * * * - The Sunday Times
“Tremendous - from pastoral folk to alt. country wig out” - * * * * Uncut
“Bonnie 'Prince' Billy meets The Band. Thrilling. High quality Americana from the wild West Country” - * * * * Q Magazine
Press for the album 'Diamond Valley'
"Something I should add ripe for listening by admirers of Elliott Smith and Simon Joyner." [Losing Today]
"One for the quiet, reflective hours when the spirit ebbs, it’s a hauntingly compelling work." [Roots And Branches]
"The result is truly remarkable. This is without a doubt one of the best albums that will be released this year." [Folk Radio]
"As the year draws to a close ‘Diamond Valley’ is one of its finest breaths." [Drowned In Sound]
"Heaven-sent from Devon" [Daily Express]
"Hailing from Devon, where frontman Rupert Morrison runs splendid independent record shop Drift, this is a band whose rich sonic palette cannot help but have been influenced by their day job. The fragile aches of Jason Molina and Elliott Smith leave their marks, while the luxurious melancholy of much of this record evokes memories of prime period Ryan Adams. Morrison has a beautifully expressive voice which, coupled with a decent arsenal of memorable tunes, makes for a fine serving of alt-country." 8/10 [Clash Magazine]
"A considered, thoughtful release full of contemplation and reflection. A grown-up album." [Hi-Fi World]
"Unmistakingly of grand stature, this LP embodies deeply personal lyrics in a warm bath of mesmerizing pop folk ballads." [pennyblackmusic.co.uk]