A veteran despite his young age, Morris first picked up the guitar when he was 12 and has been performing live since finishing school in the mid-90s. His innate sense of melody and harmony, together with his honey-toasted vocals, are no fluke of nature. Rock’n’roll, it seems, is in the Morris blood: Andrew’s father was a member of 60s beat act The Allusions, while older brother Chris has made a name for himself nationally, albeit on the other side of the stage as an awarding-winning band photographer.
Morris’s musical upbringing resonates throughout Little By Little. Around the same time that he picked up a guitar, Andrew was transfixed when he heard Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ on the radio. He rushed out and bought Harvest, an album that decades later served as inspiration for his debut solo release.
“I’ve loved Harvest since I was a kid. That country soul bluesy feel was something I always wanted to explore.”
Morris recorded Little By Little in just ten days, in a piece-meal fashion thanks to the busy schedule of the album’s co-producer, Bernard Fanning. A close friend, Fanning offered Morris the use of his new home studio – Leafy Bug Studios – to record his debut (and “guinea pig” the studio). Fanning not only co-produced with Morris, he also provided musical accompaniment on several tracks. Other friends, such as engineer Mark McElligott and guitar whiz Danny Widdicombe, also lent their talents to the process, much to Morris’s delight.
“The main purpose of the recording was to have fun with it and enjoy creating music together.”
That spirit together with the studio’s semi-rural location – proved the perfect setting to create Morris’s stripped-back collection of countrified cuts.
“My aim was to write an album that I could play solely with acoustic guitar and vocals,” Andrew says, drawing influence and inspiration from albums such as Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and Harvest.
And while Little By Little sounds laidback, there’s a lyrical undercurrent that mirrors Morris’s determination to record his solo debut. Following the demise of his last band, Morris wasn’t about to cut his hair and get a ‘real’ job. Rather, he dove straight into writing a fresh batch of songs for his solo debut. That eagerness to persevere with his love of music is reflected in the likes of title track ‘Little By Little’ and drive of ‘Rattle The Head, Rattle The Snake’.
Elsewhere, Morris takes a look out his window in ‘Passing By’, a song he describes as a “streetscape observation” of the mix of cultures in Brisbane’s West End, where a rich tapestry of life – from homeless battlers to tight-fisted businessmen – walk past your door.
Vocally, the back porch feel of lilting gem ‘Bury Me Down’ recalls American songsmith James Taylor, but its feet are firmly fixed in the “paperbark trees” and “cool brown earth” of his homeland.
Fittingly, dry production techniques and a rustic ring underscore the raw emotion of ‘Heart Bounded By Sorrow’, a song Morris wrote for a friend dealing with personal grief very few could ever imagine. He counts it as the song he’s most proud to call his own, despite its fragile subject matter.
The simplicity and ease of Little By Little makes for an engaging listen at every turn.
‘She Only Feels Like…’ leaves plenty of space for Morris’s distinctive set of vocal chords to make the most of the delicate melody. Similarly, a gorgeous vocal harmony provided by Bec Innes together with Caterina Senese’s expressive piano accordion adds much to the no-frills arrangement of ‘Let It Rain’.
And demonstrating he’s no one-trick pony, the otherworldly feel of ‘High Times’ shows Morris’s flair for arrangement when it sheds its simple skin and rolls into a jangly, harmony-laced jam.
Little By Little might be Andrew Morris’s first foray into the solo terrain, but it’s indicative of a singer-songwriter with a natural flair for writing songs that resonate with heartfelt honesty, an all-seeing eye and the gamut of human emotions.
Little By Little was released November 1 2004 on Soul Arch Records via Reverberation.
Since then, Andrew Morris has toured as a member of Bernard Fanning’s band, ‘The School Boy Error’. He is currently recording his second album.
This biography was taken from Andrew Morris’s official site: http://andrewmorris.com.au
Edited by skinny-jean on 25 Apr 2006, 16:14
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