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Jess Morgan – Langa Langa

Lisa Ward


There are some albums that assault your senses like the fall of snow in winter, and others which sneak up on you like the feel of the sun on your back on a warm spring day. Jess Morgan’s Langa Langa is most definitely the latter, both delicate and poetic it has a subtle nature but it’s still able to penetrate below the surface. At times it’s reminiscent of something Martha Tilston might have released, Jess’ vocals are not powered with force but left to linger in a much more spellbinding manner which, when coupled with her distinctive guitar style builds a sound which is comfortingly familiar and yet equally novel.

Modern World in some ways feels like an analogy for the whole album, with it’s desire to create and tell stories of times, places and people. It’s something of a declaration and as she sings ‘me I’m an old soul, I don’t think I belong in your modern world’ over beautifully crafted string harmonies, frankly I’m grateful of her penchant for a bygone era. Elsewhere the subtle bluegrass influences sneak in particularly in the likes of Annie of Greyfriars. Meanwhile her interpretation of American folk song Silver Dagger becomes more mournful that Baez’s and more earnest than Fleet Foxes rendition, delivering the song with a real sense of sorrow.

The Lone Cashier sees her foray into a more intricate country style number, as she takes a look at a robbery gone wrong. Nevertheless it’s Freckles in the Sun which for me really highlights Jess’ guitar skills, rising and falling as you move through the song, whilst The Missionary highlights Jess’ ability to tell 3 minute stories as she explores the complexities of love and loss. As she sings ‘you win some lose, yeah we lost some’, though the characters in the song might not have had a happy every after, Jess is certainly winning with this album.

Coupled with her own artwork, the cardboard cased album pushes things back to an older time, where both the music and physical product become something to immerse and lose yourself in. It’s an album which is capable of moving the listener through stories and moods and with a constant demand to draw your attention to its intricacies, which is where you begin to uncover the raw heart of the songs.