Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
hat's a country song without drinking? Morgan Evans seems to have gotten the missive loud and clear as a good chunk of his songs incorporate libations into the mix.
And when the Australian-bred singer isn't confronting drinking, he's dealing with matters of the heart, but in keeping with the positive attitude he purveyed, love is most definitely a good thing.
Evans got the ball rolling with one of his best songs, "Young Again," about the joys of romance and the hours passing by with an anthemic chorus, which, you got it, has a line about being "drunk on love and whiskey shots."
Evans performed solo acoustic throughout, although he had help in the form of utilizing loops for much of his show. He pointedly said early on that he was creating all the loops live and that nothing was pre-recorded. Later, he jokingly named different parts of the loop (drums, guitar, etc.) after members of his band when he lived in Australia.
Like many of his contemporaries in the country field, Evans opted for a drum machine sound with beats, not exactly on the traditional side.
Evans, a cheerful, friendly sort, got downright serious in introducing "Things That We Drink To." He said the song was dedicated and inspired by his late manager of 10 years, Rob Potts, who brought him to the U.S., nurtured and mentored him and set him up with the team of people that still surrounds him. Evans wrote the song on the same day as a memorial for Potts, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2017.
So while "Things That We Drink To" may have included alcohol into the lyrics, Evans shed a whole other light on it with a heartfelt rendering of the song with lines like "We can wonder where all the time goes/But it don't change a thing though/All I'm tryin' say is I miss you/Yeah, the things that we drink to."
As for the positive songs about love, that's no surprise given that Evans is married to fellow singer Kelsea Ballerini (in fact, Potts introduced the two in Australia). Evans' brand new single, the decidedly uncountry sounding, "Diamonds," is about his relationship with Ballerini.
Evans could not be accused of overstaying his welcome as he performed for 45 minutes in the WBWL 101.7 The Bull radio show. No encore, even though that was a given based on his performance.
With good cheer, attitude and radio friendly songs, Evans showed he was far more than could been a night of clichés.
Catherine Roche, a local artist from Haverhill, Mass., opened with a set that grew stronger over time. With an EP under her belt produced by Kent Wells, Dolly Parton's producer, Roche offered a bunch of her songs with the help of an acoustic guitarist and bassist plus a few covers. Earnest about her musical dreams, Roche's own songs ("Last Key on the Ring," "Road Trip") stood out.