Hearsay: Wednesday, October 17, 2002
Captain Morgan

Many fine, upstanding citizens of this great Cowtown will be out in force this Saturday at the Thirsty Armadillo for a celebration of All Things Heather Morgan, as the local singer-songwriter celebrates herself and the release of her first full-length c.d., Six Strings and Slow Backroads — and it should be assumed that some of these Fort Worthians have received from Morgan via snail mail a postcard advertising the performance and offering $5 off the cost of the c.d., which retails in the neighborhood of $79.

Just joshing — HearSay has no idea how much Six Strings runs. Still, your columnist knows a bargain when it hears one — even though we’re not sold on every cut. This disc is full of innocuous country, like the kind of stuff HearSay imagines is listened to by very sweet, good-natured, normal people who pay their bills on time and eat dinner while not standing over the sink and wash their SUV’s every week by hand just because and enjoy big-budget Jackie Chan movies when feeling particularly “edgy.” Another album full of songs with sad fiddle lines, delivered by (surely) some straight-whiskey drinker who has talked himself into believing that the reason he hasn’t shaved in two weeks is because he looks good in a beard, on top of the sweet sounds of a dobro being plucked by (surely) some downtrodden ex-Gibson salesman whose wife just left him for a right-winger on the local minor-league hockey club — this one’s so clichéd it’s downright un-American. So you could say Six Strings runs up against HearSay’s sentiments on tradition (hint: breaking tradition is HearSay’s i-dear of tradition!). Everything on this disc is so neat and deliberate that the point at which production stops and soulful music-making starts is nearly indefinable. And we blame Nashville for sanitizing c&w ... .

Still, there’s an intangible quality percolating — to use the hip hip-hop patois — throughout this disc. Credit Morgan, the gal, for this. Her (surely) God-fearing person comes shining through her voice, a shrill instrument packed with freshness, angel dust, and, yeah, just a little bit of uncertainty. Holding back, caution, the knowledge that what you’re singing will be heard by another human being, fear: This is the stuff of great vocalists. Morgan certainly has what it takes.

For example, Morgan goes for just the right pitch on “Penny,” a ready-for-radio number that comes somewhere in the middle of the disc. Unlike on “Hard Working Man,” a song that finds Morgan rightfully playing up the twang in her voice, the singer keeps her vocals as non-countrified as possible — perfect for khaki-wearin’ Clear Channel program directors nationwide, desperate for that “cross-over” charmer. “Ms. Morgan, we’ll see you now.”

At the Thirsty Armadillo on Saturday, you can expect a solid, professional show, with a lot of musicianship, many Lone Star beers in the seats (er, in the hands of the people in the seats), and myriad sparkling SUV’s in the parking lot.

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