Jean Morrison’s professional musical journey began in 2008. Dave Birch, original guitarist on pop classic “Video Killed the Radio Star”, met Morrison shortly before then and produced his debut release that year, Fawe. The EP received a great deal of critical praise and the pair are teaming once again for Morrison’s forthcoming full length album. Morrison, however, finds himself reflecting recently on the passing of his father shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began and, as such, has taken the opportunity to make that soul-searching public.
The re-release of his 2015 standalone single “Cardboard Skies” is both cathartic for Morrison and an excellent way of re-introducing himself to listeners anticipating his upcoming new album. The rock song is a diverse and often sweeping anthem-like number certain to pack a lot of power in a live setting. Morrison’s pipes are more than adequate – its rough-hewn characteristics fill it with character and contrasts well with the poppier aspects of his sound.
The track will remind some of bands such as Queen, T Rex, cinematic rock and roll with flash and substance on the same footing. It isn’t imitative, however. Morrison has taken those influences and transmuted them through his own consciousness to produce a sound trafficking in the familiar, but individual in the end. Calling this song a radio edit, for the purposes of review, serves no purpose because it is clear that adding even an extra 30-45 seconds onto the song wouldn’t dilute its impact.
His sense of song craft extends to the lyrics as well. Morrison understands what he wants from the marriage of music and words in a fully-realized way few modern rock artists share and, moreover, they aren’t facile. “Cardboard Skies” benefits from the smatterings of poetry during the song that are never pretentious but, instead, throw gasoline on an already combustible work. Morrison’s craftsmanship is well-nigh unimpeachable.
This applies to the arrangement as well. His innate understanding of dynamics is apparent and there’s the right orchestration of the song’s disparate elements into a compelling whole. It’s gratifying as both a casual and hardcore music fan to hear the confidence emanating from Morrison as he navigates the song. There isn’t a single misstep.
His voice is a throwback. Morrison carries himself, on a recording, like some 70-early 80’s rock singer stepped out of a time machine and ready for the modern world. Framing Morrison and his talents in such a way may lead some readers to believe that this is a nostalgia act, but it couldn’t be less true. Jean Morrison is charging ahead, full steam, once again and his new single is both a reminder of what he can do and a clearing of the decks for a future as boundless as ever.
He’s getting there his way, as well. He surrounds himself with the right collaborators such as longtime friend and producer Dave Birch and doesn’t compromise himself for the spotlight. “Cardboard Skies”, even in edited form for radio, is one of 2022’s most memorable single releases.
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