With the release of Vaporizer, Jason Morphew establishes himself as one of the most gifted songwriters now going. Having listened to a good bit of his previous work, I was aware of this gift of his, but with Vaporizer, everything has come together in a new and appropriate way. This may have something to do with the way this album has been produced, but it’s not just that. The songs themselves—melodically and lyrically—seem possessed of a new and unusual clarity. I think of Willie Nelson’s The IRS Tapes, not because The IRS Tapes have a similar sound (they don’t), but because that album, too, is an instance of a performer’s coming into a new and appropriate degree of clarity. It’s something like when you can’t get a radio station to come in without static, and then suddenly there it is, clear, closer to you. This sort of clarity is rare, of course, and when it occurs I always feel a strange sort of release. This is probably my being released from the habitual mode—the mode in which I am always largely critical, skeptical, of the songs I am encountering. The clarity I am talking about disallows that critical mode—it is like someone suddenly too close to you—too close for you to not see him as fully human. This kind of clarity also produces a sense that genre has been obliterated, or rendered radically less significant. The songs on Vaporizer could be called pop, country, ballad, dance, and any number of other things, but I never have the sense that there is any real danger of their being relegated to those categories. The voice and the melody are too compelling—they secure the songs in something much closer to us, which I would call simply song. In that realm—the realm I call simply song—one does not listen in order that one might hear something new, something novel, or in order to pass the time. Songs, when they achieve this degree of being songs, do not allow one to pass the time—they insist upon something contrary—something like: these songs are time, and time cannot be passed, cannot be gotten around. In this way, such songs are dangerous: they do not offer a way out—they offer a way in.
Joe Wenderoth, corruptor of youths. author of books (Letters to Wendy’s, No Real Light, and Agony: A Proposal among them) which are in the process of being translated into sound and image and excerpted to you-tube and facebook (facebook seems like it gets better resolution). Wenderoth is originally from The Land Of Pleasant Living and lives now in a large room usually referred to as California where he teaches in the Creative Writing program at UC-Davis.
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