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Diamonds to Dust

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Album Review

Gurf Morlix is a guitarist/producer probably best known for his collaborations with Lucinda Williams, although he also has worked with folks like Robert Earl Keen, Ian McLagan, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Buddy & Julie Miller. The busy Austin-based musician doesn't get a lot of time to do his solo work, with Diamonds to Dust being just his fourth album; however, it is his strongest overall effort. A sense of morality courses through this disc, starting with the powerful prison-cell set opener, "Killin' Time in Texas." On "Madalyn's Bones," he explores the mysterious death of the atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair, while "Food, Water, Shelter & Love" offers his stark take on the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. Death plays a central role, too, in the haunting "Windows Open, Windows Close," which refers to the late Texas songwriter Blaze Foley, as well as in the spare and stirring "Blanket," a tune partially inspired by Warren Zevon's death. "Blanket" is also one of the tunes that features Patty Griffin's harmony singing; her gorgeous soaring voice provides a nice contrast to Morlix's more earthbound vocals. His parched voice, however, does lend an appropriate world-weariness to his cover of Dylan's "With God on Our Side." The title track, a roots rock workout, offers more dark ruminations, but Morlix includes some wry fatalism ("Birth to boneyard/Boon to bust/Everything falls apart when it must"). His dark sense of humor surfaces later in the disc on a delightfully twisted love song, "Worth Dyin' For." Although the disc maintains a dark mood, it isn't pitch black. The simple bluesy "I've Got a Passion" offers a bit of hope through the power of love. The disc closer, "Need You Now," is an even stronger love song, although this heartfelt plea to a missing lover can't be called an uplifting tune. This song, along with the rattling ramshackle blues of "Up Against It," number among the tracks that evoke his times with Lucinda Williams. For someone who is a sought-after guitarist, Morlix never resorts to showboating. He colors "Up Against It" with some roadhouse bluesiness without slipping into meandering soloing. Similarly, his swampy guitar work enhances the noir-ish mystery of "Madalyn's Bones." Somewhat bleak but thoroughly compelling, Diamonds to Dust is a rough-hewn little gem of Americana.

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

After making a name for himself as a record producer for a roster of other artists that includes Robert Earl Keen and Lucinda Williams, Gurf Morlix struck out on his own with a solo effort when Catamount Records issued Toad of Titicaca in 2000. Morlix, a guitar player who sings and plays a number of other instruments, penned 11 numbers for his debut. The tracks, showcasing the many facets of Morlix as a songwriter, include a humorous homage to actor Dan Blocker, who played Hoss on the Western television...
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Diamonds to Dust, Gurf Morlix
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