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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Richard Franklin Morse

Rychyrd

Review by Josh Turner

It’s a real wonder that there is so much residual talent left in the family to produce yet another marvelous artist. Richard Morse is a remarkable songwriter (and brother of Ala and Neal Morse) with a voice that’s rather pleasant to the ear. It’s as if he parlayed the essences of Simon, Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, and Nash. There’s also a little bit of James Taylor and Aaron Neville in there too. As for the manner in which he cobbles his fine art together, he takes the lead from his younger brother Neal’s solo efforts; only lyrically he strives to be more like a stand-up comic. Every song is special in its own way, though there is one that’s extra-special.

Overall, the tomfoolery combined with generous spells of sensibilities beget the truest form of gaiety. Even the unmentionables are exceptional whether they lift you up or jerk your tears. There’s no chance Richard Morse was adopted since his talent is in harmony with the other two. As the eldest, he assuredly set an example while the talents of those young masters ripened. This release shows he can proficiently follow in their footsteps—or for that matter lead the way—with a variety of mature and groovy brews. Only in this case, there is a submission that merits annual household use on a national scale done in conjunction with costumes, cauldrons, jack-o’-lanterns, and especially half-pint prepubescent pranksters…but don’t you fear, your inner child is more than welcome to possess this piece of Richard Morse too…roll credits…cue evil clownish laughter…ha, Ha, Ha!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Invocation

“Invocation”, for starters, invokes The Beatles, but does so to the tune of Christian rock.

Let Your Dreams Make You Come True -

Somewhere in the vicinity of Gilligan’s Island’s droll seas, this is equally calypso to that lovable goof’s whimsical theme song.

Heaven Left a Light On -

This takes from two famous Elvi; that would be Presley and Costello. Its premise, however, is more like the one from Bosom Buddies, which is to say that it also hints to Billy Joel. Roy Orbison is another name that’s brought into play.

This I Know

Feeling much like the conclusion to Transatlantic’s “Duel with the Devil” is “This I Know." It’s as if Richard Morse’s choir found the motherless children and brought them back for a happy reunion.

Distraction

This is the sincerest form of singer-songwriter material, and it warrants the word “superlative” to describe it. The keyboards are merely there for texture while the guitar sets the rhythm. Richard Morse’s voice is the ginger and spice and everything nice that’s added to this palatable dish. Continuing to flatter the Caruso of Rock and the Downtown Boy, this also embodies Orbison and Joel. There might be a twangy-touch of Willie Nelson in there as well.

Have You Ever Been In Love

Topping all tracks but one, “Have You Ever Been In Love” is catchier than a bottle of DuPont’s feedstock. In other words, its inflammable fluidity warms your central parts. Referencing the pretty woman’s suitor once again, it compares pretty intimately to “You Got It!” It’s also has some of Tom Petty’s scion grafted to its exposed, palpitating heart.

Forever In My Heart

The darling described in this ditty is a dreamboat, and the place painted by this piece is a beachcomber’s paradise. Richard Morse’s breath is fresh and the mood is breezy. When you first hear him lay his lips on this one, you’ll think it’s a Mentos commercial.

Safe Place

The easiest way to elucidate this casual ballad is Extreme’s “More than Words” meets James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”. Just like those two, there is nothing but smooth sailing onto the next port.

Summer Girl

Next, we jump ahead to something that’s much too wholesome to be considered a treat. As nutritious and delicious as soft-served yogurt, this is a fresh swirl with steady beats, inspirational solos, and a lot of choral substance. The only thing missing from this seventies shtick is The Brady Bunch.

Happy Birthday To Me

This is not at all what one would expect, because it’s despondent in nature. Its narrator has hit rock bottom as his candle no longer burns bright. Nevertheless, it’s a celebration in creativity. The song is well-done and the ending is bittersweet.

One Step Closer

As Richard Morse scales this hymn, Aaron Neville is king of the hill. Not to mention, the gospel that is at its mountaintop is so exalted it’ll raise spirits up, up, up.

Skull Beneath My Skin

One before the end, and supplanted by another comfy pair, comes the “Skull Beneath My Skin,” and that’s the one we’ve been waiting to dismember. This has got to be one of the most brilliant tracks I’ve ever heard. It’s a sing-a-long and the lyrics are incredibly clever. I could see this one sung on the bus or around a campfire. It’s the perfect song to answer dingdongs when unsuspecting kiddies trick-or-treat about your front door steps. Move over “Monster Mash!” You’ve been replaced by this ghoulishly witty ditty. Not to mention, something to the effect of that repugnant puppet from “Tales from the Crypt” surfaces before its egress shuts. In sadistic cachinnation, the control voice spits out, “It’s just a barebones idea, but I’ll flesh it out later.” This track’s scare tactics alone are worth the price of admission to Richard Morse’s funhouse.

What You Gonna Do

This disco-ridden, exuberant sermon is a step back in time to Seventies musicals like The Wiz and The Blues Brothers. In the middle of the heap is a sequence that sounds like the opening of Sanford & Son. Altogether, this funky chicken is a unique and spirited way to bring these services to a close.

 
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