Bill Morrissey,
Something I Saw or Thought I Saw
(Rounder, 2001)

New England folksinger Bill Morrissey took a bit of a hiatus since his last release of original songs; in fact, it has been five long years since his last release of his own material. However, that doesn't mean he hasn't been busy -- Bill put out a tribute album in 1999 titled Songs of Mississippi John Hurt. His new disc, Something I Saw or Thought I Saw, holds all the character we have come to expect from Bill over the years. He has an unforgettable style, as well as a very distinctive voice! The liner notes call this disc another of Bill's touchstone albums, and listening to it again, I find that it may very well be.

Journalist Ted Drozdowski wrote that the new album "is a testament to the human capacity to love, time and time again." Bill has suffered a great deal in his life, and that heart pain is contained within his music -- not an easy accomplishment. Often when someone writes about his or her heart being ripped out and stomped on, it comes across as really crass. But Bill has a gift. His experiences come across as reflective and just another part of life, easy listening and non-jarring -- and of course they don't leave you sobbing, either. This is acceptance at a base level.

The disc opens with "23rd Street," and the clarinet adds just the right hint of tone to suggest remembrance and remorse. "This moonlight in New York / will not go away / I sit in this hotel / and tonight I'm just too drunk to pray / She said that she'd always love me / but that she might not always stay / Have a seat / Have a seat / And we can look at the world through this window /on 23rd Street." Needless to say, she didn't stay ... no fairy tale ending to this track.

Another heart-wrenching piece dealing with the same subject matter (love gone seriously bad), is "Moving Day." Every note on the guitar seems to draw forth yet another small pain within, as Bill's gravely voice tells the tale his heart once felt.

Bill has a rather romantic side, and he shares it in the final track on the disc -- "Will You Be My Rose?" This is a delightful slow track, featuring the piano and Bill's sincere vocals. What woman could say no to this?

Hopefully the guitar genius won't make us wait another five years for his next release. His songs have a lot of heart and soul within them, they touch a number of people in different ways. A wonderful balm for the broken heart, be it male or female, is found within these tracks. Bill has a great deal of talent and is a pleasure to listen to.

[ by Naomi de Bruyn ]
Rambles: 25 August 2001

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