Russell Morgan

Russell Morgan Transcends Genre in Complex LP

What do jazz, blues, soul, and folk have in common? The answer is simple: Russell Morgan.

Hailing from England, the singer-songwriter’s latest album, Begin Simple, is a simple medley of all of these genres, and then some. While the phrase “simple medley” may sound a bit odd, there really isn’t any other way to describe Morgan’s sound.

When picked apart, the individual aspects of the album are able to stand on their own as elementary compositions. However, as each element comes together one begins to realize that they are anything but elementary; every rhythm, beat, and melody is masterfully interwoven within an acoustic backdrop, making the listener realize that this album’s simplicity is far more complex than it first appears to be.
Russell Morgan Creates Deceptively Simple Beauty

Simplicity at its finest has the ability to introduce a new realm of possibilities. Though at times underrated, even the most basic compositions can add just the right amount of energy to perk up a listener’s ears.

What Russell Morgan manages to do in Begin Simple is something of great difficulty: he brings together a range of musical elements that are individually straightforward, but when put together create an entirely new thought process. “The idea was to get out of the box,” said Morgan, “[to create] new dimensions within these stories.”

“Begin Simple,” the album’s title track, begins with a serene keyboard accompanying Morgan’s deep vocals. The instruments within this song sound like they’re having a conversation with Morgan’s vocals, bouncing off of the steady beat and smoothly complementing the verses of the song.

It’s quite a start to the album, incorporating such a varied mix of genres that it’s hard to compare it to just one obvious thing. The subtle hints of blues, jazz, and funk that are hidden among Morgan’s vocals and the various layers of instrumentals make the track one of the strongest on the album.

Songs like “Right In The Corner” and “Shady Grove” set the overall tone of the album; a mellow acoustic guitar riff accompanies a steady drum as Morgan coos over the tracks’ melodies. This mood, however, plateaus over the course of the album; the gentle melodies extend to the next few tracks until the album’s 7th track, “I’m Alive,” making the middle section fall flat of the variety it started with.

A final beam of hope, the album closes with “Begin Simple (Reprise),” circling back to the same strong energy that it opened with. As Morgan sings “begin with a simple question / end with a simple answer,” over and over again until the track’s close, the audience gets a hold of a taste of the complexity tucked inside the simplicity of the album.

While Begin Simple falls short of supplying its audience with a strong amount of tonal variety, the honest way Russell Morgan presents his folk roots gives the album enough character to become a decidedly good one.

Russell Morgan | Teardrops (Cover) May 8, 2012 by Becca Sawyer

Today brought us some musical treasure in the shape of this beautiful folk cover of disco classic ‘Teardrops’ by Russell Morgan. Morgan has a beautiful voice, and the sadness of the dancefloor original is made even more devastating in this interpretation. We love it.

Norman Darwen (Blues matters review issue 64 (surrender))

Although this 8 track CD runs to 37 minutes and is thus longer than some album releases, Russell’s website describes this, his debut release, as an “EP”. Cheshire-based Russell has an eclectic list of influences, from acoustic ace John Martyn to jazz legend John Coltrane, and the songs here are equally diverse, from folky ditties like the opener and the Mississippi blues-inflected title track to the hard blues-rocking, heavy riffing, psychedelia-tinged ‘Push It Up’. Russell has a very distinctive singing voice, his acoustic playing is individual but occasionally bearing traces of Mississippi John Hurt and the 60s folk and folk-blues revivalists, and his song-writing strongly individual – which all together makes for a very interesting release.

Jeff Roberts Radiation Mountain and

Cheshire Soul: Russell Morgan

This week Russell Morgan, from Cheshire, UK appears for the first time on Jaebberwocky, which totally belies the degree to which his music has filled my ears in the past year. Whatever genie it is that bestows soul upon a singer, it's a capricious, miserly spirit that only deigns to bless a few in each generation. And somewhere in its travels it decided to light and grant a rare magic to Russ Morgan. This is a voice that draws the full moon into the sky in hope of laying claim to inspiration.

Comparisons to Richie Havens, Joe Cocker, John Martyn, and Nick Drake come readily, given the combination of dusky, soulful voice and lyrical, finger style guitar in open-tuning . But this is a new and original sound that brings an admixture of jubilance and wistful longing for the enjoyment of the heart and ears.  And it delights more with each listen.

Experience the triptych of Beautiful Day, Move these Mountains, and Surrender, and be moved. And give us your impressions after you do.

Adrian Phillips

Over the last couple of years artists like John Smith, Scott Matthews and Brighton's Fink have, rightly, been compared to the late/great John Martyn. I'd like to add the name of Russell Morgan to that fine list of contemporary musicians. From the husky folk/blues vocal and skillful guitar playing, to his willingness to explore various musical styles Morgan shows a dramatic likeness to the Scot who has influenced countless others. He even bears a slight facial resemblance to Martyn in his younger days.

His debut release is a polished 8-track gem which combines folk, blues and rock in equal measure and makes you wonder why he's not signed to a major label.

From the nagging riff and soulful lyric of opener 'Beautiful Day' to the beguiling closer 'Follow' Morgan doesn't put a foot or finger wrong. 'Move These Mountains' glides along pleasingly and 'Surrender' starts as a gentle piece of blues and then kicks off 60 seconds in with thunderous drums and swelling cello bringing it to a storming conclusion. Things slow a tad for the wistful 'Nothing But A Fool', and 'Sister' with its gorgeous string arrangement, both of which could easily have come from Martyn's pen circa mid-70s.

'Push It Up' is a thumping pop/rock workout and 'Runaway Boy' another serving of reflective folk, which showcases Morgan's talent as guitarist and vocalist.

I've said it before and will no doubt say it again, if there's any justice in this world Russell Morgan will be a name in many a musical household.

Surrender is out now on Ray Recordings and from all major download sites.

Jules Hornbrook Author She Wore A Scarlet Ribbon

Time for some music on the blog, and someone we featured briefly several months ago. Over the summer Russell Morgan has been in the recording studio, and the stunning album “Surrender” introduces us to the raspy folk/blues voice of a man that sounds as though he swigs fine whisky and gargles with gravel. You can really melt into this soulful but uplifting music. The guitar work is to die for, finger dexterity most would sell their grandma for. As you delve into the album, through various styles and messages, it’s obvious that he’s had fun fine-tuning his craft, but there are some magical details dotted across the tracks.  

For me “Beautiful Day” is the stand-out track, the perfect album intro, a soulful happy-go-lucky sound that reminds me of stepping outside in the early morning, just as the first rays of sunshine flood the day. No worries, carefree and with everything to look forward to. It’s upbeat and perky, with simple lyrics and some meaty sounds to keep you tapping your foot as Russell smiles his way through the track. “Runaway Boy” charts the obvious, but reflects upon the artist’s experiences when one of his son’s comments bring back childhood memories. The delicate guitar work is the perfect companion. “Push It Up” screams from the speakers, a surprise track nestled amongst slower, poignant material, but it really works and showcases the rock side to the artist. 

Go judge for yourselves. You can check out Russell’s music at He will be supporting John Bramwell from “I Am Kloot” at Square One in Crewe on Thursday 8th December, 2011.