There are certain genres of music that have the air of American history in their bones. Blues, jazz, Americana, and folk. It’s these last two that bring to mind the harsh and beautiful landscape of the American Midwest. This is a place where everyone has a story to tell, and the time has come for Cashavelly Morrison to tell hers.
A native of West Virginia, Morrison has the blood force of Americana flowing through er body, and her body of work. The desolate planes of Appalachia are her musical kingdom, and in this case that Kingdom really does belong to an infant.
Her debut album, The Kingdom Belongs to a Child, is both a compelling elegy to the loss of her father, and the miscarriage she suffered in 2010. Yet at the same time the album is representative of the life she still lives in spite of the loss, and the principals that guide her.
The album opener, Long-Haired Mare, is a bitter-sweet ballad, tinged with heartache and regret, the music transporting you to the old west that none of us will ever see. As an opener, the song is the arresting and engaging work of a very confident artist. This continues on Emory, a masterful banjo lead track that showcases Morrison’s ethereal vocals. Made of Sand is a more traditional country song, a plea for a leaving lover not to go, at first it seems by-the-numbers, until the controlled swoon of the chorus, the sound of exhaustion that hits like a punch to the gut.
There is a melancholic atmosphere to the record, a compelling feast of Southern Gothic that helps Morrison catch the listener of guard. We think The Kingdom Belongs to the Child is just a countrymalbum but on repeated listens Morrison’s themes come to the fore. For example, Pink Dress, which deals with gender inequality in the backdrop of a woman in a man’s world.
And then there’s May 5th, the song inspired by her miscarriage. A brutally personal song, so much so that you get the uneasy feeling of an eavesdropper, hearing something that is not meant for you. But Morrison knows that music can be the platform to communicate a huge loss, and that music is given more power through sincerity.
The Kingdom Belongs to a Child is a stunning, and evocative journey through Cashavelly Morrison’s inner life.