Seen - Morley (Polydor)

CD review Take Annie Lennox's rich timbre, throw in some Paul Simon world beats, and you're there, writes Gemma Champ.

Seen and heard: <i>Morley</i> is an enjoyable listen - and unchallenging enough to make decent dinner party muzak.
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If you take Annie Lennox's deep, rich timbre, add a few yelps of Sting's cod-Caribbean vowels and throw in some Paul Simon-style world beats, you won't be far off the sound of singer-songwriter-dancer-choreographer-former model Morley. Known for her emotional approach to lyrics and the pointedly international influences of her music (which she attributes to her upbringing in the multicultural New York area of Jamaica, Queens), her outings over the last few years have been determinedly right-on - beloved of the sort of people for whom the phrase "woolly liberal" might have been invented. In this outing, though, Morley has refocused her gaze on a closer vision: Americana and down-home country style. Her jazz-inflected melodies have been replaced with slow, echoing pedal steel guitar counter melodies, and her subjects, while remaining pseudo-mystical, contain a few open political digs at the checkered recent history of her own nation (as in No Evidence: "She said, no American flag with thirteen folds/Will represent my blessed soul"). An interesting move, and though ultimately the melodies are not memorable enough to mask the lyrical gaucheness of songs such as Temporary Lighthouse (a strangely ugly phrase), this is an enjoyable listen, unchallenging enough to make decent background music for a dinner party.