Cary Morin’s ‘Cradle to the Grave’ keeps blues alive

The tintype image on the cover of “Cradle to the Grave” makes Cary Morin appear mysterious, and certainly older than his 54 years. It also enhances his Native American Crow tribe features. In line with those thoughts, the 11 songs on Morin’s fourth album do seem to have an ancient aura circling about, and the deep well of insight in them surprises, given I’d never heard of him prior.

Cary Morin

Born in Montana, Morin now resides in northern Colorado. He’s a fantastic fingerstyle guitarist— nimble, yet very soulful. Even when he does show off his skills, as in the ragtime-like blues “Laid Back,” he does so without overplaying. The sentiment expressed in the song always reigns.

The blues dominates the program, and Morin sings them in a raw, but harmonious voice. In the title song, he puts to tape the thoughts of mortality that most in the second half of life begin to contemplate, and he makes it a gritty but graceful exercise. Subtlety also is Morin’s way. So, in the folk of “Dawn’s Early Light,” he croons and picks away in tribute to the Standing Rock Sioux who protested the Dakota Pipeline, but without politics—just clear sense.

The entire album features just Morin singing, and playing guitar, but he resonates so well, there’s almost an illusion created that more are involved. Besides being quite the songwriter, Morin has for all his 20 years on the world stage — literally — been a keen observer of what’s going on out there, and what has gone down in the past. “I know she treats me dirty, but I love her just the same” is a line that defines the blues, and it comes from old bluesman Willie Brown’s “Mississippi Blues,” done here sprightly.

Morin covers Phish, too, tearing “Back on the Train” down to its back-porch essence. But the best of the three covers glides with heartfelt devotion, and that’s Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a fine reminder of what a talent that man was. Cary Morin may not be a Prince, and there’s only one King of the blues, but sitting in that throne, cradling his acoustic in the tintype on the cover sure does seem right. A delight from start to finish, keeps the blues alive.

-Tom Clarke

  • Cary Morin|
    ‘Cradle To The Grave’
    Release: Jan 13, 2017

About Tom Clarke

From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 20 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, and the 45-year timelines and ever-growing family trees of The Allman Brothers Band and Los Lobos. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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