Simon Morel
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Simon Morel

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We weren’t the only ones who gushed over Australian-based Morel’s debut album from 2005, ‘Songs From The City’. It was an excellent collection of pop songs superbly produced as usual by power-pop King Michael Carpenter and although it has only been a couple of years it has been too long since we heard from Morel.

Apart from heart-stopping melodies Morel showed his worth as a lyricist on that debut. Maybe it’s been said too often now but I have to say it again, Morel’s lyrics were at least an equal match for those penned by Difford and Tilbrook way back in the glory days of Squeeze. Morel not only writes about what we all can relate to, matters of the heart and such, but he writes in a way we can all understand and with just the right amount of humour. One gets the impression that while Morel means every word he sings he can also see the lightness in certain situations. Which is a long-winded way of bringing me to the only negative thing anyone could possibly find with this album which is another collection of eleven perfectly formed pop songs. This time there are no lyrics printed in the inlay! It’s a very minor quibble and with Morel’s clear vocals it’s not so important maybe as each and every word can be heard the same as on the last album but there was a certain amount of satisfaction to be had when reading the lyrics of the last album even when the songs weren’t playing. “I’ve been there”, “Know exactly what he means” normally with a smile on the face. That’s what happened when looking at the lyrics from the first album. I’ve even checked out his web site but no luck with the lyrics for this album…not yet anyway! But while we are touching on the packaging of the record it should be noted that the CD is made to look like a vinyl album; a nice touch.

But to the songs, for those lucky enough to have heard ‘Songs From The City’ then you don’t have to read anymore, just go out and buy this album. It’s more of the same but maybe, just maybe a little better. Yep, it’s that good. But it’s not like Morel is treading water. While the sound is not that dissimilar to ‘Songs From The City’, there is obviously 2 years more experience of performing and writing songs to add to his already long career. Morel is turning into a master at what he does. The signs were there on that debut and are confirmed by this follow-up.

Again Carpenter helps out on bass, drums, keyboards and vocals and Amanda Easton makes a welcome return on backing vocals too, practically stealing the show on ‘Into The Night’, a typical Morel ballad which is to say that it’s a gorgeous melody, all heartfelt vocals with Morel sounding more vulnerable than usual and when Easton comes in with her wordless contribution she makes a great song stunning. Pure class and it sounds like a choir of angels flying above us.

The album starts with a few crackles and pops as the imaginary stylus hits the vinyl taking the packaging to another level and leaves one in little doubt that here is an artist who is not afraid to admit he has one ear firmly in the classic pop of the past and the other planted securely in the here and now. Those crackles even make a short re-appearance before track 7, just like you had turned the album over on the old Dansette!

There’s a harder-edge to this album compared to ‘Songs From The City’ which was a surprise to begin with and the opening two songs, ‘Tomorrow’s Maybe’ and ‘As Time Goes By’ reflect this. While not losing his melodic touch there’s a gutsier feel to these songs. But by the time the chorus comes in on ‘As Time Goes By’ and Morel’s vocals take the lighter route we remember him for, it’s obvious that while small changes or progressions from that debut have been made, by the end of the CD we have fallen for this slightly grittier Morel which surfaces on a few songs here.

The third song, ‘No Coming ‘Round’ is Morel in classic ballad mode. As good as the faster songs are Morel really shines on heart-felt ballads like this. There’s a certain softness in Morel’s vocals on his ballads but it’s never over-sentimental, there’s still this edge to those sweet sounds which take Morel out of the ordinary.

There’s guitars jangling, sweet, heavenly harmonies, that power-pop fairy dust that Carpenter sprinkles in just the right amount on every album he produces, ballads that will touch even the hardest heart and lyrics detailing what we have all lived through at one time or another. And that’s without even mentioning the dreamy guitar solo on ‘Give Me A Reason’ which is worth the price of the CD alone. The song is simply one of the best Morel has ever written. It’s a ghost of a song with Morel sounding weary of everything in his life, pleading “Give me a reason to come home”. That guitar compliments the way Morel is feeling. Morel wrings more emotion out of his guitar in those 60 seconds than most artists manage throughout a whole album. And if that is Amanda Easton again adding those backing vocals it’s about time some - PennyBlackMusic Magazine (UK)


Straight away, track 1, “Tomorrow’s Maybe” makes me want to dance. Great throbbing groove dance beat with a bit of soul in the chorus. The general sound is very Brit-Pop/Rock influenced, probably down to the fact that Simon Morel, while Sydney based now, is originally out of the UK.

This is his sophomore effort, following on from the well received debut Songs From the City.Record #2 is a likeable, pleasing effort, with some happy sounding tunes that have some interestingly contrasting lyrics.

My first listen to this one, I just bopped around going with the rhythm and the beat. Some tracks have some strong drum pieces, without them ever overpowering the song. So it wasn’t until I put it on for a second time that I began to notice more than the hook lines in the lyrics. Possibly because some of those hooks are very catchy, perfect for throwing your hands in the air and singing along.

A second listen revealed a darker side, contrasting the pop sensibility with an accessible relevance to common experience. This isn’t an essentially happy album, but it doesn’t choke on its misery. The words are more a gentle exploration dealing with unhappiness without becoming mired in it. Actually, it’s kind of a good break up album, applicable to those times when you just need to reflect and get over it without driving yourself despair. There are some dark, sweeping images in “Give Me a Reason” that I love. At times it is soothing, such as “Into the Night,” with some sweet melody.

Simon’s voice is clear and strong, with a pleasant, subtle husk. If I had to make a comparison (and I feel I do, for descriptive purposes) he is slightly reminiscent of Bob Evans, but more throaty than nasal. I’m a little uncomfortable with some of the high notes, particularly in “As time Goes By”, although considering that is a song about uncomfortable feeling, perhaps it is appropriate. It definitely sounds like the feelings he is singing about. I would just like too hear him exploring the deeper reaches of his voice. He has this great restrained energy in his recordings that promises to be great live. Alas, I have yet to have the pleasure.

All in all, Record #2 is a well set out, thoughtfully done album, with an understated theme pulling the whole thing together, without the tracks bleeding into each other. It’s solid, there is a lot to like about, yet I can’t escape the feeling that the best is yet to come from this guy. Some real talent there has me enjoying this one, but looking forward to the next. - www.thedwarf.com.au


It's great when an album can hook you in irreversibly, straight off the bat. And the sounds of Simon Morel do just that. In what can only be described as a fantastic compilation, Simon explores almost every musical terrain under the sun, to create a vibrant and unending album of colour and diversity. From the slow and meaningful “No Coming 'Round”, to the rocking “Tomorrow's Maybe”, this album is sure to satisfy all taste-buds, thanks to its endless variety and talent.

Simon's vocal ability is smooth and classy and he is able to melt into the mood of each song, whether the sombre and emotional or the loud, toe-tapping numbers with ease. The lyrics are fun, charged and inspire emotion at every turn. Welcomed by either the soft tinkering of guitar strings, or the mad beating of drums, each song is a treat, a new journey to explore and this album will keep you on the edge of your toes.

A really great album. - MediaSearch (Aus)


“With a strong British influence, Simon’s songs are kind of ‘pub-pop’. That is, rockin’ tunes without the drunk idiot spitting a pint down your ear. Rather, your ear can expect to be gifted with some of the best hooks and melodies around” - Hot4s Magazine (Australia)


“An emerging, important new arrival on the power pop scene and the pay-off is big here on "Record #2". Extremely Highly Recommended!” - NotLame.com (US)


Discography

Record #2 - WildCat Records - 2007
Songs from the City - WildCat Records - 2005

Stream tracks from both albums at
www.myspace.com/simonmorel

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Bio

Expect nothing less than sweet British guitar based indie-pop from the second LP from Australian based, but British born singer- songwriter Simon Morel.

Simon’s second record, intelligently dubbed ‘Record #2’ is a guitar led Brit-rock inspired record- think everything from Teenage Fanclub to UK Squeeze- where Morel has channelled 60s PowerPop and combined it with story based songwriting. Produced by Michael Carpenter ‘Record #2’ hits stores in March through MGM distribution.

About Record #2, NotLame.com says "[Morel is] An emerging, important new arrival on the power pop scene and the pay-off is big here on "Record #2" and his debut CD “Songs from the City” was called “a pretty perfect debut” (lunaKafe.com) and “a collection of eleven superbly produced and played pure pop gems” (PennyBlackMusic.com).

Simon Morel has a music career that stretches over the last 15 years, having played the UK university circuit in a variety of bands from a mid 90's pop combo to a 12 piece funk orchestra.

A regular of the Sydney indie pop live scene, Simon has played at various Sydney and Newcastle venues including The Basement, Sandringham Hotel, Hopetoun Hotel, Hotel Bondi, Empire Hotel, Exchange Hotel, Excelsior Hotel and The Roxbury.

In addition to the regular live Sydney shows, Simon toured Japan, France, Germany, the UK and Spain in 2005 in support of his debut release.

Alongside his live performances, Simon has been featured as a live studio guest on ‘Arvos’ on FBi 94.5FM, ‘AcousticA’ on 2SER 107.3FM and has had airplay on over 40 local stations nationwide.