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Mark Erelli - Milltowns

~ CD Review ~ Tribute to Bill Morrissey

Feb 2, 2015
Kimmy Sophia Brown

This album is a tribute to singer/songwriter Bill Morrissey, who passed away too young and too soon. Mark has interpreted these lovely sensitive songs in fine voice, with a gently picked guitar, singing lyrics that could speak to anyone. The song “Birches” tells the story of a marriage that’s cooling off like a fireplace needing wood. My God, anyone who has been married a long time could easily key into this insightful, painful song. If you’re prone to tears, you might start right here:

Let’s fill the stove with birches and watch as the fire burns bright
How long has it been?
I know it’s been quite a while
Pour yourself half a glass, and stay with me a little while
But Warren, he shook his head as if she made some kind of joke.
Birches? On a winter night? No we’ll fill the stove with oak.
Oak will burn as long and hot as a July afternoon.
Birch will burn itself out by the rising of the moon.
And you hate a cold house same as me – am I right or not?
All right, all right she said, it was just a thought.

Bill Morrissey and Mark Erelli

The song “Letter from Heaven” is funny and sweet with a line about Abe Lincoln being able to see the end of the play. It ends with a heartfelt little yodel:

It’s a great life here in heaven,
it’s better than the bible said,
it’s a great life here in heaven,
it’s a great life when you’re dead.
And me I couldn’t be happier, oh the service here is fine.
They got dinner ready at half past nine and I’m going steady with Patsy Cline.
Just last night in a barroom I bought Robert Johnson a beer
Yeah I know everybody’s always surprised to find him here.

“Handsome Molly” is a gorgeous tune that makes me think of the songs of Townes Van Zandt or Leonard Cohen.

I park my cab on Water St.
Waiting for a fare,
Watching young girls in their first heels,
Step like colts across the square.

“Morrissey Falls in Love at First Sight” is a quick-rhyming, silly song of Bill's imagination going bonkers, making plans for the future with a person he doesn’t even know. Mark does a great job keeping up with the gentle strumming and rhyming.

My heart skipped a beat the moment you walked into the room
and in five seconds I was thinking bride and groom,
thinking man and wife,
never fell in love so fast in all my life.

This album is elusive and present and heart-awakening. The more I listened, the more it pulled up nostalgic feelings from my life.

It features wonderful support from all the contributing musicians: Sam Kassiser, Charlie Rose, Zack Hickman, Rose Cousins, Kris Delmhorst, Jeffrey Foucault, Anais Mitchell, Peter Mulvey and Rose Polenzani. I recommend buying this album, I recommend going to see Mark Erelli. He makes me want to buy the albums of Bill Morrissey, and I bless my good fortune for having heard this album. To find out more about Mark Erelli, visit his website at markerelli.com. [Click on image for larger view.]

Image used by permission of Mark Erelli

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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