T E Morris - And You Were The Hunter
While the wait for a new album by his 'day job' grows, T E Morris (that's Tom Morris to you) is proving to be one of the most prolific solo artists we've come across in a long time. He's put out a slew of EPs since January of last year, and has already released a full-length album this year. It was called We Were Animals and came out in April. Yes, it's only been out for four months, but Morris sees no reason to wait to release his second full-length. That's the kind of work ethic a lot of bands would do terrible things for. Of course, it helps that writing songs comes as naturally to him as breathing does to the rest of us - anyone who's heard Her Name Is Calla's monumental debut The Quiet Lamb will agree - but nonetheless, the very existence of And You Were The Hunter comes as a surprise.
As has already been proven, Morris doesn't lack ambition, and the fact that his new record opens with a six-minute slow-burner that finds him in quite a reflective mood; "Bright spark, can I tie you down, look inside your self, find what makes you tick?" is further evidence that he doesn't do things in conventional ways. 'Bright Spark' sets the scene wonderfully, and its stripped-back approach is used on other songs, too, lending the album a wonderful sense of intimacy; 'Cellar Door' and the glorious a capella title-track are sterling examples of how Morris is able to do so much with so little. The considerably more expansive-sounding 'The Long Distance Runner' follows; that song is the kind of post-rock-influenced gem that Her Name Is Calla have become known for creating, but rather than go for a full-band approach, Morris keeps things relatively simple, and one of the high points of the album is reached only two songs in.
The album's delicate side is balanced out by some harder-hitting material: 'Provenance' is considerably more up-tempo, its minor-key melody creating a brooding atmosphere in which it thrives; and 'Hopeless' contains a set of affecting lyrics whose emotional impact is augmented by the appearance of a mournful cello. Its pessimistic outlook is reflected by other songs on the album, but 'I Was The Last One' does a great job of marrying that sort of lyrical timbre to an uplifting melody, before the plaintive waltz of 'After The War Ends' brings the album to a close. It needs to be digested as a whole; every song on 'And You Were The Hunter' benefits greatly from those which surround it, and works from start to finish on a number of levels, with striking emotional depth added to exquisite songwriting to produce something fragile yet extraordinarily powerful.