Shape of a Tearby Lynn Morris
The acclaimed bluegrass vocalist Lynn Morris could hold all the attention on any of her albums, but she wisely also features the talented members of her tight ensemble. Her husband, bassist and singer Marshall Wilborn, as well as multi-instrumentalist (banjo, mandolin, guitar, and fiddle) Ron Stewart and mandolinist Jesse Brock are highlighted throughout Shape of a
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Originally from Texas, Lynn Morris now calls Virginia home. She learned to play guitar at age 12 from the same man who taught Buddy Holly. Morris took up banjo while attending school in Colorado, and she won the national banjo championship at Winfield, Kansas twice (1974, 1981) while a member of the Denver-based group "City Limits Bluegrass." She was the first person to win the Winfield contest twice. (Tony Furtado was the second.) From 1980-1986, Lynn performed with the Pennsylvania-based band called Whetstone Run. Her husband, Marshall Wilborn, also played in that band. In 1988, she and Marshall formed the The Lynn Morris Band. On "Shape of a Tear," Lynn Morris is all entangled in love and loneliness, as she sings about the good and the bad. This album starts with three cuts about good love, before Morris warns us about those nasty, bad blues. A three-time IBMA female vocalist of the year, Lynn Morris delivers the goods with heartfelt emotion and soulful sentiment, as well as playing guitar and her trademark clawhammer banjo (on one cut). I wouldn't have minded a couple more cuts featuring her expert banjo playing. She is ably assisted by her regular band members Ron Stewart, Marshall Wilborn, and Jesse Brock. Other guests include Junior Brown (pedal steel and harmony vocal on one cut), Rob Ickes (dobro on two cuts), and Dudley Connell (harmony on two cuts). Ron Steward's "Road Rage" is a hard-driving, ripping rouser. Marshall Wilborn sings lead on his composition, "I'll Take Them With Me," and Hank Williams' swingy "Move it on Over." When Morris travels Lonesome Highway, her blueitis is apparent. But don't get too sullen or glumpy. The next cut, Dallas Frazier's "Shoulder to Shoulder," is a great, fast pick-me-up. "Don't Neglect the Rose" is a love song with some excellent and timeless advice. The album closes with Dudley Connell and Lynn Morris singing the Louvin Brothers' "I Know What You're Talking About" in reference to old-time religion. A bonus cut, "Spay Your Pet," is a public service jingle which reinforces Lynn's commitment to animal welfare. This is my first album that ends with a cat purring, but in reality the entire project is the cat's meow. And, a message to all you big artists and labels?.it wouldn't have hurt to add a couple more tracks, as this first-rate album is over much too quickly. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)