Since beginning to perform around 1947, Leon Morris has graced many stages throughout the United States and Canada, and with his latest release on Patuxent Music, Thinking Today of My Home, there is little reason to think that he’s going to put the brakes on anytime soon. Showcasing his melody-driven playing abilities on both mandolin and guitar, Morris demonstrates his smooth, clear vocal in a compilation of twelve tracks. Morris’s latest effort is sure to please old-fashioned music lovers.
Most people who recognize Morris may remember him from his time spent playing with the “father of D.C. Bluegrass,” Buzz Busby. Therefore, it should be no surprise that he has included three Buzz Busby tunes on this record: Going Home, Lost, and Me and the Jukebox. His arrangements of songs by other popular artists (Ralph Stanley’s The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn and the Louvin Brothers’ tune Love and Wealth) are also charmingly simple.
Morris’s playing abilities are presented well through his recording of two instrumental tracks, the traditional Golden Slippers and the somewhat obscure Bill Emerson/Doyle Lawson number Welcome to New York, which Emerson calls “a fine rendition.” Golden Slippers clearly shows Morris’s mandolin and Doc Watson style guitar skills. The mandolin harmony parts on the track are especially nice due to their current obscurity within the genre while Emerson’s endorsement through liner notes is also delightful.
Morris’s songwriting abilities are even showcased within the record. He contributes five original pieces which are mostly gospel. These tunes are played in the style of artists like Flatt and Scruggs or Bill Monroe. On two of these selections, Heaven is Waiting for You and Now I’m Free, Morris plays all the instruments (guitar, bass, and mandolin) and sings every part except bass vocal.
Morris’ songwriting takes another turn with the reflective title track, Thinking Today of My Home, which speaks of times gone by. He also pays tribute to the late Charlie Waller in song. Charlie commemorates the late performer’s life from an old friend’s perspective, and its sweet melody is quite catchy.
Thinking Today of My Home is a wonderful changeup from many of the fast-paced, lick-based albums that all too often appear on record shelves, and supporters of traditional bluegrass music are sure to enjoy it. For more information regarding Leon Morris’s music, please visit his artist page on Patuxent Music or simply click on www.pxrec.com.