Toad of Titicaca (Catamount)
Since Gurf Morlix has worked with folks like Jim Lauderdale, Slaid Cleaves, and of course, Lucinda Williams, for so long, the idea of him singing and writing his own songs may seem a bit peculiar. Nevertheless, Morlix has fashioned a fine solo debut in Toad Of Titicaca
. At its most surprising, Toad
reveals him as a sensitive and tender artist. But Morlix also shows a devious sense of humor that fully matches his rock & riff side, especially on "Dan Blocker," an ode to one of the stars of TV's Bonanza
. Some songs recall some of Keith Richards' solo work; nothing too deep, just a couple of chords, a sly solo, and a solid beat. Like Keith, Morlix is not the strongest of singers, yet he never really oversteps his bounds. After a while, the listener is apt to put such limitations aside and concentrate on the spirit of the music, and there is plenty of spirit here. Opener "Wild Things" is highlighted by a hooky refrain (with Buddy Miller on backing vocals) and Morlix's trademark slinky guitar style. "You Don't Know Me" is bluesy rocker in the style of NRBQ or Faces, ironically enough featuring Small Face Ian McLagan on keyboards. Then "Robin Sings At Midnight," a bit of front-porch picking and singing that displays Morlix's old-time country influence. While Morlix has long since proven his place in American music, this disc shows facets of his talent that have never seen the light of day. While not perfect, it's hardly a disaster and is sure to generate even more respect for his many talents.