Springtime Carnivore’s”Midnight Room” an Exquisite Experience

26 Oct

The lineage is clear from the first notes.

Greta Morgan, a talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist — originally from the Chicago area, but currently residing in L.A. — must be a close relative of Washington state’s Neko Case. Or an even closer relative — geographically at least — of Southern California’s Jenny Lewis.

All three women create distinctive, accomplished, highly melodic indie pop-rock — each with her own individual stylings — that offers the listener honest, heartfelt glimpses into their lives.

In Morgan’s case, recording under the moniker, Springtime Carnivore, her winsome, 10-song set, Midnight Room, tries to make sense of an especially life-changing breakup.

If you’re into indie music, you may well have heard or seen Morgan before — as a backup singer for La Sera, as the lead for 2009’s Gold Motel, or in other less well-known bands. But in 2014, Morgan released her debut album as Springtime Carnivore. And in just two years, she’s matured tremendously, with Midnight Room a true revelation.

Produced by Chris Coady, who’s also worked with Future Islands, Beach House, and others, the album sometimes edges into folk-rock, dream-pop or even alt country. The compositions reflect the period of time Morgan was going through — waking up at odd hours alone in her L.A. home. But the music never gets maudlin or self-absorbed. Rather, the songs connect with the listener in reassuring ways.

The album opens with the title track, “Midnight Room.” Accompanied by a richly strummed guitar and steady drums, Morgan’s throaty vocals ebb and flow, soaring in the choruses as she tries to make sense of the recent breakup.

The fourth track on the album is “Double Infinity,” an intricate, shimmering 80s ballad — backed by a persistent tom-tom beat, cascading synths, and featuring Morgan’s plaintive vocals.

“Raised by Wolves” is the song on the album that veers closest to an alt country sound. But edgy synths, a busy bass line, and slapping drums keep the song from going too far astray of the rest of the set.

Song 7 is “Under the Spell.” I don’t know why — maybe it was the relentless bass line — but it reminded me of a classic rock anthem in the mold of Fleetwood Mac, with Morgan’s voice meeting the high standards of Stevie Nicks.

I always look at how an artist closes her or his work, and Midnight Room ends with the chilling “Rough Magic.” It’s soaringly, achingly sentimental — lonely and longing — but still hopeful. Morgan’s vocals sound like they were recorded in a cathedral, and the solitary repeated notes on her piano provide a stark contrast.

Midnight Room is one of the better albums of 2016 — a pleasure to listen to over and over again, from start to finish. By the way, if you’d like to see Morgan perform in person, your chance is coming up locally next Friday (November 4th) at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

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