Frank Morey hails from Lowell, MA, Jack Kerouac's home town. Like Kerouac, Morey is a story teller, the only difference being that Morey's story's are converted into songs. These songs are populated by real characters based on the people Morey has encountered. Bob Koester obviously recognized something about Morey's music that persuaded him that Morey should be recorded for the Delmark label. The resulting album, "The Delmark Sessions" looks like it could reward that faith.
There is nothing particularly subtle or polished about Morey's music. This is exemplified by the opener, "I Know (The Woman's Goin' To Break My Heart)." The intro sounds like an old Howling Wolf tune, but then it breaks out on its own, and rolls along nicely, with a very catchy chorus that sucks you in. Morey's vocals fit in the same mold as Tom Waits (to whom Morey is regularly compared), and his harp playing is very laconic and raw. The engine room of Joe Faria (bass) and Scott Pitman (drums) provide solid support throughout.
There is a strong drink-related element to several of them too. "Every Night I Have The Same Dream" has a late night drunken ramble feel to it, and it has several obvious companions ("Saturday Night," "Barmaid, Barmaid," and "Hey-Hey Baby"). In this respect, Morey's songs have much in common with the blues, because they are dealing the problems of everyday living.
Ironically, there is also a religious theme running through several of the songs ("Let It Roll," "Blame It On The Devil," and "Goin' Down Kicking"). This is a reflection of Morey's Irish Catholic roots. He has joked elsewhere that he is not sure that he is a real Irish Catholic any more, because when he heard the Blind Boys of Alabama on TV it made him think he must be Baptist because he instantly took to it.
The only non-original tune here is "Stack O'Lee." Morey's version adds little to the plethora of existing versions, but the song does fit the band really well. It precedes the closer, "Willow," which Morey delivers a cappella, just to jeep people guessing about where he is coming from next. He has the voice to carry it off, and make it sound like a traditional folk tune.
There is much to admire about "The Delmark Sessions." There is something very American about Morey's music, without it being mainstream. The most obvious appeal will be to people like Tom Waits devotees, whilst the band's raw delivery may also hook in those who admire the sounds of people like Ike Cosse. Anyone who insists that their music has to be neatly defined and categorized may have problems with eclectic nature of "The Delmark Sessions," but those with half an open mind should certainly give it a spin.
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