Audition Tapes

T. Hardy Morris

Dangerbird Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Though he's still plugging away at his full-time gig as a member of both Dead Confederate and supergroup Diamond Rugs, Morris has taken a swing at a solo album as well. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Audition Tapes is his first trip alone. Much like his peers, he takes a quieter approach on his own, and while there's enough pedal steel across these tracks to easily fall into alt-country, the hazy, grungy sounds he's made his career on are still present, just taken down a few notches into a more cozy atmosphere.

“Lucky” starts things off with a Ryan Adams similarity, though in a much more hazy vein – a theme that continues on throughout. Tracks like “Hardstuff” and “Ok Corral,” a duet with Thayer Sarrano, are much along the same lines, slower paced and dreamy, and Sarrano later reappears on the very quiet “Beauty Rest.” It's not all a hushed affair, though. “Share The Needle” is closest Dead Confederate comparison with rollicking guitars and a more straightforward rock vibe, though the album retreats back to calm and closes with “My Own Worst Enemy,” a stripped back folk song that is both warm and despondent in a way that brings to mind the great Elliott Smith. 

This isn't exactly the expected path Morris would take. When you consider that members of The Delta Spirit and Black Lips played on Audition Tapes and that it was recorded in Nashville onto tape and after hours, things make a bit more sense, though it's still a much different vision from his day job. It’s almost as if he traded his acid and 3D glasses for a jaunt at back porch life, watching tumbleweeds by day and fireflies by night. Morris has brought us one of the most peculiar Americana/alt-country albums this year, but one that's hard to forget after just one listen.

Rating: A-

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© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Dangerbird Records, and is used for informational purposes only.