Acoustic, country blues is one of the purest forms of Americana music. It also may be the most difficult to master. To capture the sound and spirit of a Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt or Lightnin’ Hopkins takes tremendous musicianship and a feel for the music that few artists possess.
But Cary Morin, a Crow tribal member who grew up far from the Mississippi Delta in Montana, has tapped directly into the roots of country blues. With his impeccable finger picking and occasional steel guitar playing and crusty, expressive vocals and song writing, Morin has developed a style that stands apart as true “Native Americana.” Morin’s deft blues picking and raw singing are reminiscent of Corey Harris’s early recordings.
Morin has performed professionally since forming his first band, The Atoll, in 1989 and later as a part of the Pura Fe Trio. In the last several years, Morin’s solo career has progressed as he won the Colorado Blues Challenge Solo Championship in 2013 and 2014.
Morin’s Cradle to the Grave is his fourth solo album, following Streamline, Tiny Town and Together. The album is entirely acoustic, and all songs were written by Morin except for eclectic covers of tunes by Willie Brown (“Mississippi Blues”), Prince (“Nothing Compares 2 U”) and Phish (“Back on the Train”). Blues-based tunes like the title track, “Lay Baby Lay” and “Watch Over Me” form the cornerstone of the album. Check out “Laid Back” below.
But Cradle to the Grave isn’t entirely blues. Morin’s heartfelt “Dawn’s Early Light,” written to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and “Trust” are compelling folk songs, and Morin’s picking on “Mishawaka” is spellbinding. Morin is a unique talent, and this album is a pleasure.
About the author: Bill Wilcox is a roots music enthusiast recently relocated from the Washington, DC area to Philadelphia, PA and back again.