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Cahalen Morrison and Eli West - Our Lady of the Trees (Self Release)
With his roots firmly planted in northern New Mexico, Cahalen Morrison has lived and breathed his music from an early age, studying jazz percussion in college and drums in a roots reggae band before picking up the banjo and mandolin in order to write a bunch of exceptionally good songs. Upon meeting with Seattle-based musician Eli West, the two musicians hit it off immediately and subsequently released their debut record THE HOLY COMING OF THE STORM, which garnered some impressive attention from the likes of Tim O'Brien in the US and Bob Harris in the UK. The duo's second album OUR LADY OF THE TALL TREES indicates that there's no stopping these two musicians and with a dozen predominantly original songs, that musical dexterity and mutual understanding of the material is once again demonstrated here.
With the one traditional song The Poor Cowboy together with a couple of covers, Townes Van Zandt's Loretta and Norman Blake's Church Street Blues, the song writing is pretty much exclusively down to Morrison, whose songs sound every bit authentic bluegrass as anything else in the genre. With a clear grounding in old time and bluegrass, Cahalen and Eli perform with an empathetic flair, each voice and instrument dove-tailing perfectly to create that spine-tingling music that not everyone can do. Although most of the songs are written by Morrison, you can't help but feel that the magic in these songs comes from the carefully worked out arrangements and the extraordinary performances. Star ratings? It's easily a fiver.