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Cory Morrow

Outside the Lines – 2002 (Write On)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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CDs by Cory Morrow

Cory Morrow writes, records and tours in a Texas-centric universe unaffected by the gravitational pull of Nashville's musical black hole. Across five releases (including an album of covers recorded with fellow Texan Pat Green) and endless rounds of the Lone Star state's dance halls and college campuses, the Austin-based Morrow has carved out a stardom that is a legacy handed down from the independence of Waylon, Willie and the boys.

This release finds Morrow's songwriting maturing from his earlier booze-soaked works (not entirely missing, mind you) to introspective songs of romance, morality and faith. Celtic-flavored love songs such as "More Than Perfect" and lamentations like "(Love Me) Like You Used To Do," find Morrow probing deeply into the complexities of relationships. Many of the tracks, fleshed out with producer Lloyd Maines, lean on acoustic playing, but Morrow still kicks up some electric two-steppers, including the title tune and "Straight to Hell." The standout "Drinkin' Alone" combines a shuffle rhythm with fiddle and steel to make a danceable tune out of a rather sad tale.

The craft and balance of Morrow's latest situates his music between the singer-songwriter sound of Bruce Robison and the graceful sophistication of Clint Black. It's a mix that would play well outside of Texas, if only Morrow could find the time to tour abroad. (512-264-0030)