If you’re here searching for some hard-edged blues, sorry, I don’t have any today. If you might be interested in a very strong songwriter, guitar player, and singer, stick around, I have someone today you might find to be a real treasure. Don’t get me wrong, Cary Morin is deeply steeped in the blues – but as one man with a guitar he’s channeling the oldest of old-school performers and that’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
If you’re still hanging around, you’re in for a real treat. Morin’s latest album, Cradle To The Grave, features – him. Just him, his guitar, and his voice and trust me, that’s enough to keep anybody happy.
Aside from playing and singing, Morin also wrote eight of the eleven songs on the album and they range from toe-tapping goodies to deeper darker journeys. And there’s a lot in-between.
Morin opens the album with the title track, Cradle To The Grave, and his finger picking guitar style is evident immediately. There’s also a rather dark spirit around the song but it makes you sit up and listen intently. There’s a richness in his playing and his vocals that is deep and abiding.
The follow up, Laid Back, picks up the pace with lively and nimble guitar playing. This is a sweet blues song that puts a smile on your face as you just kick back a little and enjoy the day. Love this song, would play it every morning just because I need that reminder every so often.
Dawn’s Early Light opens with some gentle guitar and his vocals are strong and remind me of some of the best that I used to listen to back in the day. One man and a guitar may be a throwback, but it’s a necessary one as we forget the magic of a true voice – one that is only filtered be emotion and not by mechanical devices. Yeah, I’m hooked already and looking forward to the rest of the album.
Next up is a song that’s getting some air play, Lay Baby Lay. It’s bouncy, fun, and has the kind of lyrics that catch your ear. It’s a quick number that comes in, makes you smile, and disappears like a dream in the morning. Love it.
I still find it hard to believe that Morin is making all this great music on one guitar and no overdubs. Mishawaka opens with some fancy finger picking before moving into the vocals that are deep and resonant. There’s a real sense of memory and loneliness in the song.
The first of three songs not written by Morin, Mississippi Blues, has a down home Delta feel that picks up into a sweet ragtime swing. One can imagine that Morin is the not-so-distant relative of the Delta greats, entertaining in the evenings in whatever juke joint, dive, or campfire where he could find an audience.
Next up is the dark and mysterious Ghost Dog. His lyrics are deep and poetic, and this makes this a slight curiosity as a blues song, but it works on an introspective level. It may not be for everyone, but if you enjoy navigating the metaphysical, you just might find yourself under its spell. I certainly did.
Trust starts out by painting some word pictures and it creates a beautiful setting. Morin’s no slouch as a lyricist and I’m enjoying his works very much. He creates such vivid imagery within his poetry and honestly, I would like to hear more of it.
The second cover, Back On The Train is another rollicking swing tune. While this might not have been written by Morin, he owns it and makes it his own. Can’t get more bluesy that train jumping and good guitar playing, so just kick back and enjoy the ride.
The last cover may seem like a stretch, Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U, is not one of the first songs one thinks of for a solo guitar or blues artist. However, many of Prince’s works are blues songs done for a non-blues audience. Morin starts out slow and rich, with a reverent feel – and the lyrics delivered in this manner evoke a sadness that other covers of the song lose. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
He concludes the album with another original, Watch Over Me. He stays dark with his longing with someone or something to watch over him as he is only a child. No matter how old we get, in the eyes of the universe, we are all children that need to be watched.
I will confess that when I received Cradle To The Grave, I put it aside in favor of other artists that I thought would be more interesting to cover. Despite how good those other artists are, it was a disservice not to jump on this album and devour it.
So many of my favorite artists during my formative years where singers with a guitar, and I guess I lost my way during the ensuing years. But when confronted with the magic that Cary Morin channels on this album, I can once again believe in the power of a single voice paired with a well played guitar.
If you think you might enjoy this kind of artistry, and I really can’t imagine that you wouldn’t, do yourself a favor and check out his website at https://www.carymorin.com/ and pick up this and his previous albums. See where he’s going to be playing and be sure to get yourself a front row. And look around, I just might be there as well.
(Photo of Cary Morin by Don Casper.)