Craig Morrison, a 2010 finalist in the Toyota StarMaker competition, an Australian talent search, has released his self-titled debut album in the U.S. The singer has already found success with fans down under, and hopes to convert that recognition to the larger North American market.
“Just Another Sundown” kicks off the album. Although Morrison’s voice gets a little lost under the music through the verses, he shines in the chorus. It turns out to be one of his strongest performances on the album.
Morrison’s second song, “Heart Broke Down”, is a clichéd number about trying drive a heartache away. It’s catchy enough, though, that I’ll admit to humming the hook to myself for a while after listening to this one.
Unfortunately, it’s downhill for a while from there. “Fences” is reminiscent of Ty Herndon’s most recent offering, “Stones”. Both songs try to tie deeper meaning to the eponymous inanimate objects. It might be a nice idea to use such simple props to reflect innate life truths, but frankly neither “Stones” nor “Fences” come across as either satisfying or meaningful.
“Where I’m At” and “Wasted On Me” demonstrate Craig Morrison’s biggest shortcoming as an artist: there’s no feeling. He’s a competent singer of adequate – if generic – country songs, but nothing in his voice evokes true sadness, pain, joy, or humour. There’s no flair; no ‘wow’ factor.
He does his best with the next track, “Somebody’s Girl”, but his wailing voice still sounds forced and awkward. “Reminisce”, a Keith Urban-esque effort about making happy memories, is a bit better. Morrison even sounds like he’s enjoying the song a little. Still, you can’t help but notice the hit-or-miss quality of the album.
And unfortunately, he quickly loses the bead again. “I Love You More” ends up sounding a lot like “Somebody’s Girl”. “Doin’ Country” has less forced wailing, but comes across flat and forgettable. Fifteen seconds into the next song, I can’t remember a thing about it.
That next song is “Stay Up Late”. It tries to be another upbeat country date-night song (“Come on girl, I can hardly wait/to go to bed early and stay up late”), but Morrison’s voice again fails to sell it.
The album closes with a rocking tribute to hot chicks, “Hot Kinda Love”. The melody, the lyrics, and the instrumentals are all great here, but Morrison’s voice is, characteristically, restrained. Still, it’s not a bad song.
There are some positives to be found on this album, but they’re few and far between. If I had this CD on regular rotation in my car, I’d spend more time skipping tracks than playing them. Of 11 tracks, only “Heart Broke Down”, “Reminisce”, and “Hot Kinda Love” are really worth listening to. Don’t buy the album. Buy those three singles on iTunes if you’re a fan, and maybe “Just Another Sundown”, too.
Morrison only moved to Nashville in 2011. Hopefully more time in Music City, combined with wider exposure, will help improve his future work. For now, he’s probably still better hunched over a guitar on a barstool than he is in the studio.
Craig Morrison was released in the US and Canada on May 1.