Album Review - Wealth of Sorrow - Cahalen Morrison - 2020
A veteran of the Folk festival circuit, Cahalen Morrison has left his origins in the Northern New Mexico desert, to tread the long, sometimes lonely road, and bring us his beautifully atmospheric music.
A singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Cahalen Morrisons' latest album is from an old adobe chapel in the village of Jaroso on the border of New Mexico and Colorado.
Recorded in a day and a half by Erick Jaskowiak, this is American Folk music at its most pure.
Breaking the silence with the haunting, soul-stirring Acapella opening track ‘This Whole Broken World’, Cahalen Morrison introduces us to his raw emotional world-weary stories, setting up the overall feel of his album.
An album made up from a mix of acapella, banjo and guitar songs, expressing the adversity and hardship of life. It’s not a depressive story Cahalen Morrison is telling, but one of experience and brutal honesty about not only himself, but the trials of life and the world in general.
It’s not all stormy seas and hail showers; there are breaks in the starkness, rays of sunlight, finding their way down to warm our faces. ‘Where the Bluebirds Sing’ for instance is a tale about moving forward, forging your own path, being willing to take the chance and put the effort in.
That theme of hope and working through the hardship, is engrained throughout. Songs such as ‘All Over Babylon’ and ‘Down in the Valley’ tell of a world going to hell, yet the protagonists still get up in the morning to carve out their own path and we see that, with a bit of spit & polish, life isn’t so bad.
Ending with the traditional song ‘Jamie Foyers’, Cahalen Morrison tells us of the ultimate sacrifice, giving one’s life to make the world safer for the many. An act of sorrow for the family, but the end result of this act is of jubilation and freedom for the rest of us.
‘Wealth of Sorrow’ may be a stripped down, raw folk album, but it’s a complex one when viewing the stories Cahalen Morrison, has to tell us.
I think living here in the Outer Hebrides helps sum it up well. Here is some of the most stunning scenery in the world; from the majestic mountains of Harris to the stark beauty of the Lewis moorlands.
We have the rugged cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean or the Minch; rolling hills of heather and ancient store circles, and let us not forget the friendly welcoming Hebrideans themselves. Yet, in order to enjoy this, you need to suffer the hardship.
For us in the summer months, it’s clouds of midges, horse flies and legions of ticks in the grass, all too happy to eat you alive. In the winter, it’s driving winds, hail and rain measured not in millimetres but centimetres.
You have two choices, you can sit in the corner crying with your hand out expecting everyone else to do the work for you, while you wither away to dust, to nothingness. Or, you can pull your hat down over your ears, wrap up well and experience the beauties that the land has to offer, forging your own tale in her ancient history.
It’s this haunting yet inspiring image of the world that lingers throughout ‘Wealth of Sorrow’. For me at least, the tales Cahalen Morrison spins are encouraging heart felt truths that drive us on to make more of ourselves. The end result is one hell of an album; one that stands out above those around it and demands to be heard.
Wealth of Sorrow is out now. For more information have a look at the links below: