The music-geek wars between the rockists and the poptimists laid waste to logocentrism — the obsessive privileging of song lyrics — but Bill Morrissey survived the critical carpetbombing. As the lyric laureate of New England, his songs have the narrative grace of John Cheever's short stories, but also the compositional purity of Leiber and Stoller's hits and the intricate instincts of Mississippi John Hurt's blues. Morrissey's lines are so well crafted and shrewdly rhymed that it's easy to forget his supple melodies, his precise timing, his droll phrasing and his musically full finger-style guitar technique. Last year he released his eleventh album, Come Running, a suite of traveling, love and war songs, sung with sandpapered soul and played like every note matters more than words — however fine — could begin to say.
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