‘Lena’s gorgeously resonant tone balances precision with reflective, story-filled musicality.’
Intro to Lena Morris:
It may be two years since Belgium-born, Hong-Kong raised, Brighton-based Lena Morris delivered her debut tracks ‘Break My Heart’ and ‘Dearest Dreamiest Dead’but don’t think that this means she has just been sitting around. Taking time in 2018 to join with other musicians and develop her songwriting, her sound has become something that stands out for all the best reasons. Truly encapsulating the musical influences that are as wide-ranging as her personal ones, ‘Never (Is an Awfully Long Time)’ (released 3rd May 2019) proves that the long wait has most definitely been worth it.
Giving us an instantly timeless sound, the melodic blues guitar lines and waltz rhythms take us to a bygone era. It feels intimate and enticing as can be and with the instrumental elements beautifully setting up the smoky-room-esque atmosphere of the track, it feels incredibly polished. If you’ve heard Lena’s previous tracks, you will soon realise how it’s the perfect musical step up from her final release of 2017 ‘Secretly Jacked’ However, even if you haven’t, you can’t fail to appreciate the whole feel that the track has.
Having firmly established the intended sound of the track, the emergence of the initial line ‘she was just another girl… walking…strolling…dreaming’ takes it a stage further. Demonstrating the gorgeously resonant tone that she possesses, Lena speaks to us in a way that balances precision with flowingly reflective musicality. As an opening, it’s a truly wonderful sound but moving through the verse, the addition of selective harmonic vocals as well as gentle pitch changes make it sound completely sophisticated.
Enhancing the sophistication, reaching the pre-chorus, the calming side of Lena’s vocal shifts – slightly – to reveal controlled, emotion-filled rasps and sublimely seamless changes into her upper range. However, in keeping things restrained, it isn’t until the full chorus that we experience just how accomplished Lena’s musicality is. Choosing to only subtly alter the accompanying elements to this point, the delivery of the title lyrics are arrived at without expectation. There is indeed no big instrumental statement. Nor indeed is there a instrumental climax. Instead, the incredibly melismatic setting of the lyrics provide a sublime moment of connection.
Returning to the opening sound, we transition to the second verse via an instrumental link section. However, while sounding almost identical to the introduction, more brooding guitar counter melodies begin to make their way through. Hinting at the forthcoming confidence within Lena’s delivery of the story-filled vocals, it provides interest and musical guidance as we head to the most emotive moments of the track.
Bringing further contrast to the track, following the second rendition of the chorus, Lena’s vocal takes off and literally soars to new heights. Initially imitating the pitch bends within the melodic guitar lines, she gives the first in a succession of showcase portamento vocals. Blending seamlessly with the surrounding elements, it offers no indication of the instrumental, distorted guitar led blues-rock bridge that is soon to occur. And what an instrumental it is.
Demonstrating a true understanding of songwriting, those previously accompanying elements are given a chance to shine while Lena’s vocal alternates between melodic and harmonic roles. After it being at the forefront for so long, it’s a bold move. However, in vocally resurging at just the right points, Lena’s vocals break through the melodically interweaving accompaniment touching us right to the tracks conclusion.