EP Review of Jimmy Lee Morris: Campervan (Automix Records)
UK-based singer-songwriter Jimmy Lee Morris is a talented artist with no pretense. He writes songs that define the term “folk.” In other words, they are down to earth, and about people and relationships, with resonant melodies and memorable hooks. This four song EP Campervan is Morris’ latest and follows the 2016 album Wilderness Wood.
Jimmy Lee Morris has been crafting songs since the ‘80s, fronting bands such as Mojo Filter and The Collaborators. He’s worked with Pink Floyd producer Ron Geesin and has toured extensively throughout the UK and Denmark.
With this current effort, Morris provides a lean and economical window into his creativity. “Campervan Song” opens the EP in a pleasant and forthright manner. This bears a well-thought-out melody with lyrics that address escape and the open road. It’s all about being self-reliant and throwing caution to the wind. Simply, the song states: “And here’s to the camper that never breaks down, and here’s to the journey it takes us upon, and wave to the others as we go along, it’s just you and me on the road.” And you get this traveling troubadour kind of feel too via Javier Forero’s driving percussion and Clare Lees’ light and billowy flute.
Although Morris wrote all the material here no one could accuse him of being dictatorial or autocratic. Bethan Lees is a young and very special vocal chanteuse, and Morris is more than happy to place her in the spotlight on his beautiful tune “Amor Compartido (A Love We Share).” Bethan has an angelic and lilting soprano that sends this lovely song into stratospheric trajectory. It’s entirely sung in Spanish, and the rhythm section of Morris on acoustic guitar, along with Richard Leney’s lithe bass, Javier Forero’s percolating drums and producer Simon Scardanelli’s tasty lead guitar give this a brilliant salsa feel.
“When I’m Gone” is a bluesy-flavored number with a classic Beatles-meets-Jim Croce kind of vibe. It’s a song about love and longing. Anyone that has ever been separated from their significant other or main squeeze for any length of time will certainly appreciate this. Phillipe Guyard chimes in with a wailing sax solo that really kicks.
The final selection in this brief, but fine, collection is another rootsy kind of tune called “Temptation.” As is Morris’ style, he is direct and to the point in the communication department. In this he sings: “I’m holding you, you’re holding me, I’m loving you and you’re loving me. We don’t need no complication, just give in to your temptation, stay with me.” This has a real down home feel courtesy of Morris’ mandolin and Duncan Campbell’s countrified Dobro.