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Simon Morel - Record 2

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 22 / 4 / 2007

Simon Morel - Record 2
Label: Wildcat Records
Format: CD


Superb second collection of melodic pop from Australian-based singer-songwriter Simon Morel

We weren’t the only ones who gushed over Australian-based Morel’s debut album from 2005, ‘Songs From The City’. It was an excellent collection of pop songs superbly produced as usual by power-pop King Michael Carpenter and although it has only been a couple of years it has been too long since we heard from Morel. Apart from heart-stopping melodies Morel showed his worth as a lyricist on that debut. Maybe it’s been said too often now but I have to say it again, Morel’s lyrics were at least an equal match for those penned by Difford and Tilbrook way back in the glory days of Squeeze. Morel not only writes about what we all can relate to, matters of the heart and such, but he writes in a way we can all understand and with just the right amount of humour. One gets the impression that while Morel means every word he sings he can also see the lightness in certain situations. Which is a long-winded way of bringing me to the only negative thing anyone could possibly find with this album which is another collection of eleven perfectly formed pop songs. This time there are no lyrics printed in the inlay! It’s a very minor quibble and with Morel’s clear vocals it’s not so important maybe as each and every word can be heard the same as on the last album but there was a certain amount of satisfaction to be had when reading the lyrics of the last album even when the songs weren’t playing. “I’ve been there”, “Know exactly what he means” normally with a smile on the face. That’s what happened when looking at the lyrics from the first album. I’ve even checked out his web site but no luck with the lyrics for this album…not yet anyway! But while we are touching on the packaging of the record it should be noted that the CD is made to look like a vinyl album; a nice touch. But to the songs, for those lucky enough to have heard ‘Songs From The City’ then you don’t have to read anymore, just go out and buy this album. It’s more of the same but maybe, just maybe a little better. Yep, it’s that good. But it’s not like Morel is treading water. While the sound is not that dissimilar to ‘Songs From The City’, there is obviously 2 years more experience of performing and writing songs to add to his already long career. Morel is turning into a master at what he does. The signs were there on that debut and are confirmed by this follow-up. Again Carpenter helps out on bass, drums, keyboards and vocals and Amanda Easton makes a welcome return on backing vocals too, practically stealing the show on ‘Into The Night’, a typical Morel ballad which is to say that it’s a gorgeous melody, all heartfelt vocals with Morel sounding more vulnerable than usual and when Easton comes in with her wordless contribution she makes a great song stunning. Pure class and it sounds like a choir of angels flying above us. The album starts with a few crackles and pops as the imaginary stylus hits the vinyl taking the packaging to another level and leaves one in little doubt that here is an artist who is not afraid to admit he has one ear firmly in the classic pop of the past and the other planted securely in the here and now. Those crackles even make a short re-appearance before track 7, just like you had turned the album over on the old Dansette! There’s a harder-edge to this album compared to ‘Songs From The City’ which was a surprise to begin with and the opening two songs, ‘Tomorrow’s Maybe’ and ‘As Time Goes By’ reflect this. While not losing his melodic touch there’s a gutsier feel to these songs. But by the time the chorus comes in on ‘As Time Goes By’ and Morel’s vocals take the lighter route we remember him for, it’s obvious that while small changes or progressions from that debut have been made, by the end of the CD we have fallen for this slightly grittier Morel which surfaces on a few songs here. The third song, ‘No Coming ‘Round’ is Morel in classic ballad mode. As good as the faster songs are Morel really shines on heart-felt ballads like this. There’s a certain softness in Morel’s vocals on his ballads but it’s never over-sentimental, there’s still this edge to those sweet sounds which take Morel out of the ordinary. There’s guitars jangling, sweet, heavenly harmonies, that power-pop fairy dust that Carpenter sprinkles in just the right amount on every album he produces, ballads that will touch even the hardest heart and lyrics detailing what we have all lived through at one time or another. And that’s without even mentioning the dreamy guitar solo on ‘Give Me A Reason’ which is worth the price of the CD alone. The song is simply one of the best Morel has ever written. It’s a ghost of a song with Morel sounding weary of everything in his life, pleading “Give me a reason to come home”. That guitar compliments the way Morel is feeling. Morel wrings more emotion out of his guitar in those 60 seconds than most artists manage throughout a whole album. And if that is Amanda Easton again adding those backing vocals it’s about time someone gave her the chance to make an album of her own. Listen to the heart-wrenching last line of the song “It’s 1 in the morning and I’m thinking of calling…” for confirmation that Morel, while firmly rooted in that power / classic pop sound, is a singer with more soul in his vocals that any other in that field. For fans of superbly-crafted pop-songs who appreciate Jellyfish, Squeeze and The Posies this is the next album you should be adding to that shelf of special, classic pop albums. But the chances are there will be a gap where the album should be, it will spend more time in the CD player than on the shelf. At eleven songs and 40 minutes Morel, once again, leaves us wanting for more.

Track Listing:-
1 Tomorrow's Maybe
2 As Time Goes By
3 No Coming 'round
4 Don't Give You Love Away
5 Give Me a Reason
6 Saving Grace
7 Always Greener
8 Sadness Is a Small Town
9 Into the Night
10 Don't Tell Me (You're Lonely)
11 Place for Us

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