Last Exit To Happyland
By James Calemine
Last Exit To Happyland counts as Gurf Morlix’s fifth studio album. Morlix contends as a longtime musician in the Austin, Texas music scene. In one way or another Morlix has worked with Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Warren Zevon, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Earl Keen, Buddy Miller and a slew of others. Musical guests on Last Exit To Happyland include Ruthie Foster, Patty Griffin and Barbara K.
“One More Second” opens the CD with a sandburn rocker complete with bayou slide and a hard-edged perspective of a modern day survivor of a gun fight. “Walkin’ To New Orleans” operates on an electric waltz during a jazz funeral that evokes Tom Waits. The sound on this record seems cut from the same cloth as The Band’s first three albums—a sparse, emotive sound.
“Crossroads” flows like some fever dream on the way to the last fair deal gone down, but the lines “I know some people who sold their soul to the devil/and they don’t sound like Robert Johnson” cuts like a knife. “She’s A River” contends as the strongest song on the CD. This song epitomizes why Morlix’s music resonates on a level anyone can understand. Also, Patty Griffin’s back-up vocals only add to the song’s melancholy, which lingers in the memory.
Morlix’s eerie guitar tone and Ruthie Foster’s haunting voice gives the song “Drums For New Orleans” a serious spook…a stone-cold classic. “Music You Mighta Made” serves as a tribute to Blaze Foley. “I Got Nothin’” emits a warm, lovely sound that resembles the recording of Daniel Lanois. “The fuse was lit, I was out on the hard road” tells the tale of a weary traveler on some dangerous midnight run in “Hard Road”. Morlix’s guitar tone carries these songs with a gritty drive, and cool under-played lazy riffs.
“End of the Line”—a barroom rocker—proves worth hearing for Morlix’s guitar tone. The final track, a tribute to Austin musician and ex-Stones pianist Ian McLagan’s wife Kim, “Voice of Midnight” verifies Morlix’s music always contains grains of profound sadness. Last Exit To Happyland proves a collection of torch songs by a master craftsman.