T E Morris – Newfoundland (Robot Needs Home)

Written by on June 24, 2016

A matter of hours before he turns 33 years of age, T E Morris will release his fourth solo album. Newfoundland is his birthday present to us.  And when the record is placed within the wider context of its deeply troubled, interrupted creation, what a gift this will prove to be.

It had been T E Morris’s intention to release three solo albums in 2015; LOST, And Of That Second Kingdom Will I Sing and Newfoundland.  He had then envisaged slowing down his prodigious output of recorded work to concentrate more on other artistic projects.  LOST did see the light of day in March but his subsequent plans were to dramatically change when four months later Morris’s laptop, along with an audio interface, a number of song books, some mics, and most importantly, his back-up drive were all stolen.  In one callous moment, 10 years’ worth of work just vanished, including the other two albums which were already by then in advanced progress.

With great resilience and determination T E Morris vowed to carry on but instead of trying to remake both of those albums from scratch he decided to combine them into one single release.  Newfoundland is that record.  You suspect that the difficulties Morris faced in bringing it to fruition – in addition to the theft, during recording his amp and guitar also packed in – contributed towards him saying that this will now be his final solo album.

By contrast with the loud, portentous and apocalyptic noise that T E Morris and his cohorts create in Her Name Is Calla – the band that Morris has fronted for 12 years – his solo material has always retained a much softer, more reflective edge to it. In this regard, Newfoundland is no exception.  Yet for all of his customary introspection, Morris’s last goodbye is an even more intimate and personal experience than its predecessors.

The opening song ‘Decks The Rays’ takes its title from a line in a poem by Emily Dickinson and just like those of the 19th-century American poet, its words transport us beyond the mere boundaries of expression.  Despite the turbulence of its gestation, ‘Decks The Rays’ still sets Newfoundland out on a voyage that embraces peace and serenity. Here Morris sounds like a beautiful, becalmed Jeff Buckley.

For the recording of Newfoundland, T E Morris embraced the combined talents of Peter Kušnírik (drums and lap steel) and Alex Strapková (piano and vocals).  As part of the band Inheritance they had previously supported Her Name Is Calla on a tour of the Czech Republic. Joining them in the studio was the former Calla violinist Sophie Green, alongside cellist Nicola Green and Adam Weikert on double bass.

These talented musicians combine to mesmeric effect throughout Newfoundland, no more so than on the colossal ‘The Sea of Tranquillity’.  Built around the solitude of T E Morris’s voice and piano, the plaintive strings add to the song’s magnificent sense of isolation ensuring that it ends up at a point where it surely has become the greatest single work of Morris’s career.

As with the majority of T E Morris’s music, the spectre of melancholy does haunt Newfoundland.  Yet despite the record’s sense of sorrow and all of the problems surrounding its conception, the 11 tracks collectively distance themselves from any feelings of pathos and self-pity.  Together they are united and strong and Newfoundland is ultimately a huge emotional triumph.  And if as T E Morris has said, this is to be his final solo album then it is a remarkable valediction.

Newfoundland is released on 24th June 2016 through the Leicester-based Robot Needs Home Collective It can be purchased HERE

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