Tyler Morris Band: Next in Line Review

Rock guitar and pop share a love of the shiny and new. You rarely see a middle-aged artist crack the Billboard Hot 100, or get a press release promoting an artist’s recent 30th birthday. You’re much more likely to hear how young an artist is. Which brings us to Tyler Morris, age 19, and Next in Line, his band’s latest album.

Morris is a talented guitarist and songwriter. The album hits a number of genres, circling around blues, but also veering into power pop, grunge, and even ’80s pop. These digressions are all-too-short, but outline an interesting future direction for a young artist who is still very much evolving. The song “Talkin’ to Me” borrows a lot from The Fixx classic “One Thing Leads to Another.” It’s an interesting direction for a blues rock guitarist to take, but rather than committing to the decidedly ’80s vibe, the song stays pretty mellow, with clean guitars and a steady-yet-relaxed drum beat. However, if Morris had rocked out over the track, dirtying up the guitars and singer Morten Fredheim’s vocals, the song might have resonated more. Because consciously or subconsciously, Morris wants to rock. “Ready to Shove,” the lead track, is a power pop gem, complete with Fredheim sounding like a bluesy Matthew Sweet. “Down on My Luck” is a lost Audioslave track, with vocal harmonies reminiscent of Soundgarden. And “Thunder” is a relatively innocuous rock song with a wild, epic solo. In general, Morris is fairly restrained in his soloing, but on “Thunder” he opens the cupboard, letting out every lick he’s ever thought of, and it’s captivating.

Conversely, Morris’ cover of “Willie the Wimp,” made famous by Stevie Ray Vaughan, lacks the joy and exuberance of “Thunder.” Even with bluesman Joe Louis Walker lending his voice to the track, it feels more like a chore for Morris than a joy. The song is a surprising choice for a guitarist, given it’s more of a vocal performance than guitar show-stopper. Including it is a generous gesture, even if it’s not a terribly successful track.

When I was 19, it was all I could do to get to class on time, so it’s unfair to hit a 19-year-old artist for struggling to assemble a cohesive sound. Luckily, Morris seems to have some interesting musical pieces in play. It seems like his future might be in a more rock-oriented direction. “This Ain’t No Fun,” for instance, sounds like “Manic Depression” crossed with Alice in Chains creepy harmonies. Alice in Chains was famously a glam band before hopping on the grunge band wagon. But there’s lots of overlap between grunge and glam and Morris seems primed to explore it. He just needs to lean into the dark and dirty and it’s his to claim.

The Review: 7/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Talkin’ to Me
– This Ain’t No Fun
– Down on My Luck
– Ready to Shove

The Big Hit

– Ready to Shove

Review by Steven Ovadia

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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