FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: LIGHT, CAFES, FIRES


Scarcely prolific in terms of recorded material, but invariably high on quality, Andrew Maxwell Morris has announced a new album, Save The Light, available now digitally with a vinyl release to follow soon. A criminal lawyer by day, Morris was born in Australia but for some years has settled in suburban Surrey, a mite handier for Waterloo Station. After a promising debut EP in 2007, Upside Down, Morris has built a steady reputation as a strong live performer with a bevy of tuneful songs. He is a regular feature in the Green Fields of Glastonbury, having played the last ten festivals, no less.


The new record is self-produced with some sterling help from his friend, Dave Meegan. Morris himself plays everything on it except drums. The songs play with themes of time, space and light, while musically it is airy and reflective, a step away from the artiste’s acoustic roots. Here is the opening track, “Lost My Soul”. It has immediacy and the trademark Morris passion, acting as a bridge from the Americana of his 2014 album, Well Tread Roads, yet marks the first time he has led with an electric guitar.

“Lost My Soul” is the first song Morris recorded and wrote to signal a new sound. The song urges you to move on, leaving some of your old self behind, and hope for the future. It also recognises that you can leave part of yourself with someone else, though this is not necessarily a bad thing.

A couple of weeks back, we featured The Harriets’ terrific new single “Café Disco”, ahead of the Leeds band’s full-length debut, Hopefuls, due out on 24 July. The song has been picked up subsequently by several indie radio stations, blogs and playlisters. It was shortlisted for the Listening Post by Fresh On The Net last week and has just been added to the Spotify Fresh Finds: Rock playlist. OK, so where did you hear it first then?!

Photo of The Harriets by Iona Skye


Alright, you might not be able to sit in a café or dance with all your friends right now but we can still pretend. This happens to be the title of a new song by Cambridge via NYC singer-songwriter, Annie Dressner. “Pretend” is accompanied by one of those all now too common Zoom compilation videos but any familiarity graphically is instantly dispelled by its total visual and aural charm. Dressner’s distinct, sugary vocal and bright melody lines shine out in a song that seems perfect, beach-ready even, for the summer we have yet to fully enjoy.

Annie Dressner has an album due out later this year, Coffee at the Corner Bar. Maybe we’ll all be able to go there before too long.

Photo of Annie Dressner by Elly Lucas

Along with most of the connected world, my family and I have been watching more television during lockdown. While water cooler moments may be a thing of the past for more than one reason, I still love the anticipation of an episode a week. Rationally though when presented with the opportunity to watch a series over a far more condensed period, it’s too easy to submit to temptation.


We recently watched Little Fires Everywhere, an impressive show which like many of its kind uses music greatly to enhance and progress the drama. The season finale did not disappoint and it was an added bonus to hear the closing song, “Build It Up” by Ingrid Michaelson. She has such a distinct timbre to her voice and an individual writing style that I’d recognise anywhere.

From her 2007 delightful debut long player, Girls and Boys through to her 2019 Stranger Things-inspired album, Stranger Songs, Ingrid Michaelson has been a peerless songwriter. “Build It Up” just wrapped up the key Little Fires characters and their motivations so aptly, it was a little stroke of perfection: “Everything I ever knew came from you / Everything I wanna be, that's in me / That comes from me.”

Ingrid Michaelson - Stranger Songs cover


I first came across Ingrid via MySpace – remember that? – when she was playing New York piano bars for $30 a pop. Spookily, it was 10 years ago this week that I had the pleasure of interviewing Ingrid for ConsequenceofSound while she was stopping over in London. You can still read it here if you can handle the typographical disappearance of inverted commas. Now, in a wholly unrelated way, that could be the title of a prog rock album…

FIFTY3 champions

outstanding contemporary music through news, album reviews, features, live reviews and interviews. 

 

Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.

 

Over the past 8 years I have written for the leading US music website Consequence of Sound and breakthrough act site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have regularly reviewed the festival for both sites.

 

Nothing gives me more pleasure than unearthing good, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside some legends of times past and I hope they will bring you as much joy as they give me.

 

Tony Hardy

UPCOMING GIGS 

 

Covid-19 has rather put paid to them but may I commend:

Mondays at 8pm: Cressida Ford's Almost Acoustic Show on Radio Scarborough

 

Wednesdays at 6pm: Hattie Briggs - live stream on FB & Insta

 

Daily on Twitter: Tim Burgess' Listening Party

Anytime for great live sets: KEXP's YouTube channel 

banquetrecords.com: Kingston store may be physically closed but please support online. Check out live streaming shows too!

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