I was recently contacted by the band, Morgan Washam and Bloodmoon to check out their newest album, recorded live at the Markay Cultural Arts Center in Jackson, Ohio. I was pleasantly surprised when I put on the first song "Upside Down World" and was immediately transported to this performance and enthralled by the country-rock feel that this song exudes. I felt a real connection to this music immediately.
“Upside Down World” has a simple and smooth melody that is overlaid by killer guitar work and solos from Matt Simpkins, lots of reverb and some delay really accentuates the sound of Bloodmoon. I must say I was impressed with the guitar work on the song and the lyrics match the songs feel and vibe, political and reverent. Almost Bowie like in vocal qualities and The Band like in others. The saxophone adds so much to the song and makes it a great album opener.
The next song, “Nevermind” begins with acoustic guitar chords and great vocal styling’s from Morgan Washam. This song is reminiscent of Jethro Tull, flute included. Very passionate and epic in it's transitions and changes. While Bloodmoon isn't technically a Jam Band they have all the qualities to rival any band with extended solos and transitory changes. The music is classic rock driven and I am positive any music fan can find something in this song that catch’s their fancy. At 7:57 in length Morgan and Bloodmoon are showing off their life performance prowess.
“Been Lying To You” takes a slower and more mellow, country approach. Morgan's voice is distinct but changes for the song to sound more like a Neil Young or original singer-songwriter feel. This song, while country through and through, adds a lyrical quality that is well beyond what is on today's popular country charts. The lyrics to “Been Lying To You” tell a poignant story and over arching theme of truth and despair that every good country song must have. Track 4, “Worlds Apart” from the first album is played very well and again the saxophone from Nicole Sherburne takes this song even further. I went back and listened to this song on the original album cut and I prefer this live version. Morgan and Bloodmoon show versatile musicianship and great lyrical approach in “Worlds Apart.” This is one of my favorite tracks off this album. While very reminiscent of many songs from different genres, Bloodmoon adds these influences together to form something cohesive and original.
“Crawling On Back To The Sea” is a great southern rock song with lyrics to match. I am increasingly impressed with Morgan Washam and Bloodmoon. The recording itself is very well done and the sound is studio quality. This live album is proof that this band is worth going to see live. “Butterfly” starts out much harder than some of the other songs on this live album and takes a groovy turn with lots of tremolo via the guitar and an upbeat rhythm section: Josh Heber on drums and Jordan Lombardo on bass. This song is groovy and makes me want to get up and dance. With songs like this, Morgan and Bloodmoon could play many festivals, including Jam festivals but most definitely Country Rock-Roots Festivals. They could easily find new fans in this scene that would be eager to listen to what they had to say and play.
“Freeways Of Time” takes us into introspective territory but after such a rockin’ song like “Butterfly” it feels right within the mix. “Freeway” is very southern and just like its name, takes the listener on a ride down the back roads with a blood moon on the horizon. I honestly think this song best exemplifies this bands sound and song structures. “Drifting Away” shows some great key work from Ryan Paradise, who uses the organ to perfection in this particular song. This song is slower but it is well written and played exceptionally for a live rendition. “My Brothers and Sisters In Christ” seems to be the only cover on this album and when I saw the title name, I had no idea how funky and groovy this song would be. Classic Gospel turned on its head and play differently then I never heard and I loved it. It was very reminiscent of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band, which is something I am sure would fit right in with our world. To end the album, the song, “Hand In Hand, We Stand” seems fitting and make sense to the message Morgan and Bloodmoon are trying to create, not only musically but also on stage in a live performance.
All in all, I really enjoyed this album. It was thoroughly well done and thought out, professionally recorded and added something special to my musical catalog that I had not had previously. I particularly like “Butterfly” and I went back and listened to that song numerous times throughout writing this review. After thoroughly reviewing this live album, I would love to check out Morgan Washam and Bloodmoon live and I believe they would be a great addition to some of the festivals circuits out there today. Check this album out and look for more of this band in the future.
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.