His tones are smoky, soulful and timeless, embodying the old spirit of country and the contemporary soul of rock and roll. Northern California native Ben Morrison has been compared to a young Kris Kristofferson, a male counterpoint to Amy Winehouse, and chunky, spicy peanut butter. ‘It’s as if his cells are music notes and even his spoken voice sounds like he swallowed an amplifier’ says Maddy Cristall of Words on Sound.
Having grown up in a musical family in Petaluma, Calif., Morrison made a name for himself over the past decade as the frontman (alongside brother Alex) of the Brothers Comatose. The Bay Area bluegrass band’s success saw Morrison touring nearly nonstop for the past decade, including festivals throughout the U.S.—JamCruise, MerleFest, Outside Lands—as well as multiple tours in Australia, China and Canada.
It’s always been a labor of love. But a new album out in 2019 marks Morrison’s first solo work, and it has the unmistakable sound of a songwriter stretching his legs—a new level of creative freedom, a breath of fresh air. Written in 2018, following a year of great changes and uncertainty for the Brothers Comatose, the album is the result of Morrison turning inward, reconsidering what it meant to write songs for himself. Armed with notebooks full of ideas that never quite made sense for a string band, Morrison tapped musician friends to add bass, piano and drums to his songs for a lively, full, three-dimensional sound.
“Old Technology,” the record’s second single, was partially inspired by the current state of the music industry.
“I was thinking about the way music is being churned out right now, at a record pace. There’s this new territory we’re in where everybody has access to recording equipment in their bedroom,” says Morrison. “The idea that new technology is coming so quickly, and if something’s a couple years old it’s obsolete, and how to find your place in this world of constant change.”
Fittingly, this album was recorded quite literally to old technology — two-inch tape at San Francisco’s Tiny Television Studios. Says Morrison: “I still love the warmth of that sound.”