Written by Pamela Bellmore, posted by blog admin
Sarah Morris’ artful and tasteful blend of classic country influences with folk inclinations is more than just window dressing for the material on her third studio album Hearts in Need of Repair. She has an authentic voice, both lyrically and musically, that never cheapens the style with fanciful self-indulgence and, instead, utilizes traditional forms as her vehicle with the utmost credibility. She is working with the same musical team to make this eleven song collection come to life and co-producer Eric Blomquist shows great creative chemistry with Morris’ talents that help weave a vivid atmosphere around her work. Morris’ previous two releases definitely showed tremendous promise but, with Hearts in Need of Repair, Morris’ promise comes across as a fully realized thing and poises her for even greater recordings in the future. This is undeniably her peak moment so far as a recording artist and performer.
The album’s lead off is a title song that shows immense subtlety while still touching an emotional nerve. While her musical collaborators show an expert hand in weaving aching atmospherics, the true core of this song and each of the following ten lies with Sarah Morris’ voice. She conveys the lyrics with open hearted yearning and a sense of the heart’s potential, but there’s genuine heartache underpinning her interpretation. “Good at Goodbye” is a tune with more commercial potential and sounds cast in the mold of classic country standards of yore. She never belabors this feel, however, and while the lyric hinges around the pay off line in its chorus, it still stands as a song that’s much more individual statement than by the numbers or cookie cutter. “Cheap Perfume” is cast in much of the same mold but lacks the same impactful chorus. The emphasis here seems to be more on invoking atmospherics and, judged by that assumption, the song is a different sort of success.
“Falling Over” is another song with commercial potential despite the rustic instrumentation thanks to a powerful, immensely soulful Morris vocal. Morris’ arrangements, spanning much of the album, give listeners a virtual clinic for how to mix tasteful electric guitar lines into a largely acoustic framework. The drumming is very important to the success of these songs, as well, and “Falling Over” is no exception. “Empty Seat” is definitely one of the more affecting numbers on Hearts in Need of Repair and glows with both expansive, beyond her years wisdom alongside a deep forgiveness for life’s unexpected and sometimes painful turns. “Shelter or the Storm” simmers with muscular passion no other track on the album quite matches but Morris wisely plays the song close to her vest and doesn’t serve up anything sounding terribly out of sync with the surrounding songs. “Nothing Compares” is a romantic, but equally realistic song about a relationship abiding all the endless challenges, mundane and otherwise, that face making things work with someone long term while the closer “Confetti” concludes Hearts in Need of Repair in an elegiac, sophisticated, yet immensely accessible way. Few singer/songwriter or Americana themed releases in 2017 rates as high as this and it’s Morris’ greatest moment yet as a recording artist/