From the opening note of Devil In Me, Ken Will Morton and his pack of hell-raising brethren go for the jugular. Guitar lines that streak out ahead of a tight rhythm section leave skid marks across your ear like a vintage muscled-up Camero sprinting off the start line. As the lead track comes to a close, there is no doubt about it these Georgia boys mean business. The tough bass line of “Made Up Mind” keeps things revved up and running hot, but the vocals do not grab your attention as much as other tracks.
Tracks like “Boogie Shoes” and “Still Look Pretty” fill in some space with solid material but the band really lets it fly on “Cream of the Crop.” There is a vintage feel to the whole album, yet the guitar on this track screams of a ‘70s summer anthem. “Further Down South” has a simplistic groove with a more polished vocal sound. “My shirt is dirty and my eyes are red, Pounding shots ringing through my head, I’m leaving, I can’t live like this no more,” follows on the tail end of a funky drum intro.
“Alcohol” takes on a rockabilly swing, as one might imagine. They can play a little twang, rev it for some roadhouse rock and roll, and create some hillbilly swing. Possibly the cd’s best track closes out the album. “Muscadine Wine” adds a new level of harmonious vocals, and Morton sings out like a storyteller from any given tall-tale rich bar.
The second part of this two-part review is of the deceptively laid back Kickin’ Out the Rungs. “On My Feet Again” starts slow with a melancholy nature. Not at all what you might think of with a title like Kickin’ Out the Rungs, yet a great representation of Ken Will Morton’s more authentic sound. “Get My Head Right” follows along with frolicking banjo, brushed drums, and a fun “If I could get my head right” sing-along. This is definitely a more comfortable sound for these musicians, yet both albums provide great insight to the artists.
“Don’t Feel Bad for Cryin” floats along with beautiful acoustic guitar accompaniment, Morton’s vocals have just enough scruff to make the track seem perfectly flawed with character. “Fade Away” finds the boys making beautiful music once again. The recording has a little boom that helps to create a lonely vastness.
Ken Will Morton is a deserved addition to the Americana music scene. There may be a little too much material to digest for the first time listener in this package, but songs like “Muscadine Wine,” “ Get My Head Right,” and “Further Down South” definitely give validity to the songwriter and hope for more to come.
Devil in Me and Kickin’ Out the Jams are out now on Rara Avis Records.