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Monday, October 22, 2012

Rob Morsberger - A Part Of You

Rob Morsberger - A Part Of You
2012, Hieroglyph Records
Rob Morsberger is the sort of guy who makes things happen musically.  A singer, songwriter and composer, Morsberger’s work has been featured on PBS’ NOVAScience/NOW, Frontline and Masterpiece Theater.  As a sideman, he’s worked with My Morning Jacket, Patti Smith, Crash Test Dummies, Loudon Wainwright III, Marshall Crenshaw, Willie Nile and others.  But it’s Morsberger’s solo work that’s most intriguing.  His previous albums have been a mix of eclectic and literate pop songs with hooks impale your ears and drag you along for the ride.  Morsberger recently released two new albums, one of which we are reviewing today.  A Part Of You is written from the perspective of a father diagnosed with terminal brain cancer for his young son; an attempt to leave a lasting message and gift to see him through his growing up years.
It would be easy to see such a work in terms of darkness, but while living in a valley of shadows, Morsberger projects light on A Part Of You.  The album opens with the contemplative and beautiful "This Isn't Kindness", exploring the human struggle to differentiate charity from love. It is a song of thanks and a teaching moment from father to son. "The Russian Cartographer" is an adept allegory for Morsberger's own live, swapping out an artist who maps people and emotions in song for a Man who delineates boundaries and landmarks for others to follow. It's a beautiful biograph in song with some deeply personal connections.

"An Inside Place" is deeply reminiscent at times of Sting's songwriting on The Soul Cages. The sense of being trapped within oneself transforms into an urgent need to be heard done up in Baroque pop undertones. The transition is vital, and in its own elemental way, beautiful. "The Man And The Birds" is a powerful take on overcoming death. As Death himself looks on, birds come down and lift a man out of his reach. The spiritual allegory between birds and angels is unmistakable, and the imagery has a sort of classical beauty. Brad Roberts adds his distinctive baritone voice here in duet to create an amazing split between light and darkness.

"Maydianne" finds Morsberger taking a break from deeper reflections for a love story told in song. If the Beatles ever wrote in a classical romanticism hue it might sound a lot like this. Issues of spirituality, art and legacy are in play in "Jacob Wrestles With An Angel". Morsberger's path to discovery here is fraught with more questions than answers, reflecting an incredibly real negotiation to find meaning in the fleeting valley between birth and death.

"Cancer Road" is a hauntingly beautiful exploration of life's sometimes surprising curves. The piano- driven arrangement is simple and full if peace, as perspective puts understanding in its proper place. Morsberger is at his most powerful in "A Part Of You", a live song from father to son. The heavily orchestrated arrangement is the perfect complement, as Morsberger creates an eternal greeting in place of words of parting.

"A Good Laugh" is painted against an eccentric and unsettled arrangement seemingly representing the chaos of life. In it, Morsberger reminds listeners that the greatest tragedy of all is not learning to laugh at life. He makes this point by including the infectious laughter of his son Elan. If this doesn't bring a smile to your face then you've forgotten how to listen. A Part Of You closes with "You Son", a sweet love ballad from father to son that is personal and universal all at once.

Rob Morsberger continues to grow as an artist, and in the act of A Part Of You has crafted his most affecting and personal work to date. Informed by the tragedy of a death foretold, Morsberger finds the vitality of life in the love of his son. You might liken his efforts to turning lemons into lemonade, but with A Part Of You Morsberger comes much closer to turning water into wine. A Part Of You is nothing less than a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
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1 comment:

Jan Horvath said...