By Carl Gage

Jackie Morris - Cant Fix CrazyOn this, her fourth album, Jackie Morris demonstrates the maturation of her craft in every way. Her delivery has developed beautifully and the songs are skillfully formulated, with pleasing melodies, spot-on backup, excellent arrangements and outstanding production.

Opening with her first-rate whistling on Come and Gone, a sweet tribute to musician friends that have departed, she establishes that ability as a legitimate instrument. It is employed as well on North Hampton Road, a haunting love-gone-wrong song.

The harmonies provided by Jim St. Ours, Cinder Jean and Rebecca Troon are subtle, well-balanced and complementary, adding greatly to the listenability of the seven tunes where they’re used.

The instrumentation is top-notch, with accomplished multi-instrumentalist David West once again supplying a myriad of support on guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro and bass. John O’Kennedy contributes some nice guitar work, subtly complementing four of the prettiest songs. Other contributors include Lorenzo Martinez on percussion, David Piltch on upright bass, Alastair Greene on resonator guitar and the no-less-than-amazing Gabe Witcher on fiddle, adding a gorgeous melodic overtone to several of the ballads.

Some of the outstanding listening on this album comes from the aforementioned opening song, the title track, and the beautiful I Thought You Were a Diamond. The witty and cynically humorous departments are well covered by Jambalaya, a metaphorical recipe for life’s uncertainty, Shy Boy, a cute romantic experience with a happy ending, and Factory Farm, a wry look at the evils of corporate agri-business. The serious subject of racism is tastefully related in Things You Must Not Talk About, a lingering personal memory, and a mother’s enduring love for a maturing daughter is beautifully related in Last Leaf.

The album closes with All I Ever Wanted, a charming tale of a life that could have been, and leaves you with a feeling of gentle rapture, having just heard a collection of relaxing, entertaining and feel-good music.

I tried to pick a favorite song from this release but couldn’t find a way. The variety of subjects, melodies, arrangements, instrumentations and harmonies demanded favorite status from several of the tunes.

Production by Jackie and Robinson Eikenberry, recording and mixing by Robinson, mastering by Gavin Lurssen as well as cover design by daughter Julie Morris and photography by Oliver Barth all come together with the songs to produce a piece of work that I believe will win over new fans for this talented singer-songwriter.

Lyrics and other information are available at Jackie’s website. The CD may be purchased at CD Baby.

Carl Gage is a singer-songwriter, musician and writer based in Simi Valley, CA. He is seldom paid but overly-active in the acoustic music community serving as a director and webmaster for the Topanga Banjo(Fiddle Contest and Songmakers, emceeing on the main stage at Topanga and other musical events throughout the year, volunteering with FAR-West and writing occasional articles for FolkWorks, The Bard Chord and other publications.