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Morton Valence - Another Country

  by John Clarkson

published: 18 / 4 / 2015

Morton Valence - Another Country
Label: Bastard Recordings
Format: CD


Haunting and original country on fourth album from London-bassed outfit, Morton Valence

In its earliest form, 'Another Country', Morton Valence's fourth album, was originally planned as being an album about prisons. It would tell both of those inside jail and those on the outside, the families and relatives left behind. That plan was eventually abandoned, as for self-described “urban country” outfit Morton Valence, a band never short of ideas, other thoughts began to take a greater focus. Two of those early “prison” songs, however, remain on ‘Another Country’. The first song, tragicomic “outlaw” ballad ‘First Night’ tells of a middle-class, middle-aged father-of-one’s arrival in prison after becoming involved in the 2011 London riots. “I was swept away by the madness/I didn’t know I was doing wrong/It didn’t seem such a bad idea at the time,” confesses songwriter and guitarist Robert “Hacker” Jessett in its opening lines, as he places himself in the role of his hapless protagonist. The second song, ‘A Tear for Every Year’, is simply heartbreaking. In second vocalist and keyboardist Anne Gilpin, Morton Valence has one of the most underrated female singers currently fronting a band. Typically understated, her vocals crystal-clear and pure, she captures all the hurt and quiet pathos of a woman who has had her life ripped upside down by her husband’s moment of rashness. “I miss you every hour, every second of the day,” sings Gilpin. “I cry a tear for every year that you are away.” Equally distinctive is the torrid, slow-burning opening number ‘Chinatown’. Set against the backdrop of Soho, on an oppressively hot summer’s night, it finds Jessett and Gilpin playing lovers at the height of their passion (“Take my hand/Lead me away/Close the door and throw the key away and we will dive into the water in Chinatown”), and recollects the Walkabouts both in its intensity and strange sultriness. Another highlight is the stark country lament of ‘Table for One’ which chronicles the dysfunction of someone for whom time has stopped after his lover has dumped him (“Can I book a table for one?/Somewhere in the corner where you don’t see the sun”). ‘Old Love Letters’ is even more poignant still, and, largely sung by Gilpin, tells of a woman who suddenly realises that all the romance has gone out of her relationship when she discovers an old love letter from her husband (“Somehow things don’t seem the same anymore.”). There are also moments of real humour on ‘Another Country’, none more so than with its front cover photo of the young Elizabeth II which makes a barbed comment about the haves and have-nots in society. ‘The Hawkline Discotheque’ meanwhile is a cod disco number, and last track, the lo-fi ‘Everything is Going Our Way’, which recorded at the last moment for the album and apparently in one take, finishes with Gilpin and Jessett dissolving in laughter. On‘Another Country’ Morton Valence have taken the country genre, and putting their own stamp on it have come up with something which is as haunting as it is original.

Track Listing:-
1 Chinatown (Part I)
2 Chinatown
3 First Night
4 A Tear for Every Year
5 Kawasaki Blues
6 Kawasaki Drifter
7 The Whole of This Town
8 Old Block
9 Table for One
10 The Hawkline Discotheque
11 Old Love Letters
12 The Man Most Likely
13 Everything Will Be OK
14 Flying
15 Everything Is Going Our Way

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