It took a little while to really get into this new one by singer/songwriter Bill Morris, not because these songs are not instantly likeable. Tales of Westie druggies, desolate houses in the overcast evenings and mining in the red dirt outback of Australia – there’s a clear parallel you can draw right through to some mystical Kiwi Paul Kelly equivalent. Perhaps it was the uncomfortable familiarity on tracks like Hinterland and Ruby In The Dust which emphasise the sheer Kiwi-ness of Morris’s accent, juxtaposed against slick country rhythms and bluesy bar room guitars.
Each song is a story or half-travelled road trip. In Gold Light (In the Palms of My Hands) he delivers drugs to the back of a state house. No Vacancy In Heaven is a darklands tale of a lost soul from a motel murder and The Day The Stock Truck Came is a self-explanatory kid’s view of the busiest day on an isolated back country farm. Morris loves to write about the ordinary – like a mother bouncing around a big old house once the coop have flown (Dusty Corner) or arguing over which tape to play on a road trip (Driving Music). His lyrics include some clever lines like, “There’s an electric fence around my heart going tick, tick, tick in the dark / picking up in the am dial as I go driving through the rib cage of the land,” on the darkly-edged Remnants Of Ruminants. While his more upbeat country fare is all very nice it’s this one that really left an appetite for more.