Saturday, March 25, 2017

Cary Morin Cradle to the Grave

Cary Morin
Cradle to the Grave
Maple Street Music

Of Native American ancestry (he is a Crow Tribe member), singer-songwriter-guitarist Cary Morin in recent years was a member of The Pura Fé Trio before his present solo career. This is his fourth CD, and completes a three-album project of acoustic recordings by him. The press release accompanying this release states "On 'Cradle to the Grave', Cary Morin brings together the great musical traditions of America and beyond like no other artist. These recordings provide a timeline of his songwriting and guitar work spanning 2014 to 2017. The lyrics range from blues to folk and sometimes shine a light on his Native American Heritage and small town life in America. At times, the collection conveys the simplicity of a single chord to complex finger-style guitar."

While there is definitely blues roots to the performances here (eight originals and three interpretations), tone might view this recording as as much folk or Americana. This is a minor point because Morin is wonderful guitarist, who sings with warmth and conviction and writes some real good songs. His rendition of "Mississippi Blues," a Library of Congress recording by a Willie Brown (not the Willie Brown associated with Robert Johnson or Son House), is a marvelously rendered performance full of scintillating guitar runs although taken as an uptempo romp. The title track, a straight blues performance, reflects his own realization that life is fleeting and his accompaniment complements his gospel-like pleas. "Laid Back" opens with more startling finger-style playing (reminds me of some of the more gifted guitarists of the folk revival) with his peppery tempoed singing.

"Dawn's Early Light," was written in support of the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and he notes, "This song may be an oversimplification of the situation, but I have always felt that the honoring of a treaty, no matter when it was made, is not a complex idea. History has proved this not to be the case, but I hope this time it is." It is followed by the jaunty "Lay Baby Lay," an original, not a cover of the Dylan folk-ballad. "Mishawaka" is a superb folk ballad. "Back on the Train" is his take of a number by the jam-band Phish, with more superb guitar and then followed by a marvelous folk take on Prince's "Nothing Compares To U."

The closing "Watch Over Me," is a different take on the theme explored on the opening title track as he sings about making his way through this world as he asks for one to watch over him as he is only a child. It is a strong close to this album of consistently superb performances. Not having heard of Morin prior to this recording, this writer was thoroughly impressed by him and believe many others will as well by this first-rate CD.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the March-April 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 371) with some minor revisions. Here Cary performs the title track.


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