For those who abandoned country music decades ago, one of Austin’s favorite sons just might be the singer to remind you of just how fun country used to be — before the glitzy dimestore cowboys infiltrated Nashville. Mullet-free Cory Morrow, an unpretentious fellow, eschews muscle tees for Hawaiian shirts, and he might not even own a cowboy hat. Most importantly, the pop-sensible singer-songwriter manages to ooze crossover appeal while performing music that can’t be mistaken for anything but country and western. Morrow puts that crossover appeal on full display with his new release, Full Exposure. Combining a concert DVD with a 16-track companion CD (or vice versa), the Jimmy Buffett of Texas offers up an audio/visual one-two punch that even the most jaded of “classic country” diehards will find irresistible.
The CD opens with an introduction of sorts — three new studio tracks, including the odd but engaging “GTMO Blues,” a soldier’s semi-lament of the strange predicament he finds himself in when stationed at Guantanamo Bay. Then the disc kicks into high gear as it shifts into live material. Morrow, obviously inspired by the likes of Mickey Gilley, Waylon Jennings and Mr. Buffett, amiably takes an Austin crowd through fiddle-and-steel-heavy favorites from his previous four albums — from his superb “Texas Time Travelin'” and “Love Me (Like You Used To Do)” to Waylon’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” and the Bible Belt-challenging “Big City Stripper.” Bud Light-sponsored Morrow seems to be an equal-opportunity performer, as evidenced by an expectedly raucous version of “Beer,” a toe-tappin’ cover of “Straight to Hell,” and a Bob Marley medley — all prefaced by a rousing rendition of Billy Joe Shaver’s subtly spiritual “Live Forever.”
Though Morrow has hardly forgotten his ’60s-’70s country heritage, there isn’t any my-dog-died-and-my-old-lady-left-me whiskey ballads to be found here. His entire set list, more or less, is performed with a Texas two-step tempo — but the Texas two-step can be quite enjoyable, in small doses. His six-piece backing band is top-notch, with white-hot lead guitarist John Carroll frequently stealing the spotlight.
The DVD, besides presenting the same concert (Morrow’s man-of-the-people image shines bright onstage), also features Morrow glad-handing his adoring fans, as well as some behind-the-scenes footage and commentary from the band. Altogether, Full Exposure is an infectious example of why this talented songwriter is fast becoming a Lone Star State institution; and how a country singer can build a huge fan base without the aid of pyrotechnics, leather pants or even a 10-gallon hat.
Cory Morrow: http://www.corymorrow.com/