Now, prepare yourself for The Soul And The Heal. Gurf Morlix’s ninth album is another chapter in a songbook that pithily relates the human condition. But though Morlix’s signatures are still present on this masterstroke – lyrics that don’t waste a syllable, instrumentation without a spare note – there is also a hopefulness and vulnerability not always readily evident on his recent releases. The fact that “The Soul And The Heal” is pivotal for Gurf is immediately clear from the striking front cover image of a heart-shaped cherry with its pit exposed, and from the stark title that he says speaks to “the healing of the soul from all the damage we inflict on ourselves”.
It would be too easy to attribute Gurf’s evolution to the fact that in February 2016 he suffered a heart attack while dead stopped in the fast lane, in a traffic jam, on his way to a gig. In fact these new songs were all written before this episode, from which he has fully recovered. But there’s no doubt the emotions stirred by the unexpected December 2014 passing of Gurf’s musical mate, rock keyboard legend Ian McLagan, contributed as well. Morlix comes by his musical minimalism naturally: “It’s the way my brain is wired. I like to hear everything clearly.” This batch of songs yields the expected Morlix darkness and humor, but woven between are numbers imbued with a warm light, an album that manages to run the gamut of emotions without being cloying or obvious. With “The Soul And The Heal” Morlix continues to create his own singular musical universe, but the yin and yang of his outlook has never been as in sync as it is now, making it even more inviting to join him on Planet Gurf.
Gurf was born in Lackawanna, New York (near Buffalo), saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, formed a band (in which Peter Case made his stage debut), moved to Austin to escape the cold and play music, befriended Blaze Foley and a bunch of other Austin characters, moved to Los Angeles, worked for more than a decade as Lucinda Williams’ guitarist, band-leader and backing vocalist, produced Lucinda’s acclaimed Sweet Old World and eponymous albums, famously left Lucinda, toured with Warren Zevon, moved back to Austin, produced a number of classic Americana albums you likely own if you are any kind of Americana music fan, played on many more albums you probably own if you fall into that category, got inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame, received the Americana Music Association’s “Instrumentalist of the Year” award, went on to make seven critically acclaimed albums of his own, and then toured the world supporting them. He now continues to play live, produce albums for the artists that move him, and make his own albums. He even goes fishing ever once in a while.