By Alec Wooden
For those that follow the regional folk/songwriter circuit, here’s the least surprising sentence of 2010: Ken Will Morton’s got a new record out. Here’s the second least surprising: True Grit, the newest product from the Athens, Ga. workaholic, is yet another satisfying step forward in the catalog from which fans are quickly expecting nothing less.
Even more so than at any point in his lengthy discography, True Grit finds Morton dutifully and respectfully playing the part of a Neil Young/Tom Waits hybrid, understanding full well the concept of putting the focus back on the great American (and Americana) tradition of story-first in his songwriting. Not a distant second in this instance is the impeccable production quality of the most polished record Morton has enjoyed to date – something that, while not critical in establishing the record’s validity, serves as an able-bodied platform on which to carry Morton’s soulful stories to heights perhaps thus far unrealized in his career.
Sonically, True Grit is a bit of a quiet riot in comparison to some of Morton’s earlier work (if a road map is needed, don’t overlook the gravely title track and overall standout “Don’t Feel Bad For Crying”). But by it’s end, we’re left with an even keeled record of mostly soft-side and muted tales that, while they may play more quietly than earlier work, may do nothing less than become his loudest critical success yet.