Lorrie Morgan is the daughter of smooth country crooner George Morgan, whose romantic hits of the 1950s and '60s framed a remarkably minimalist vocal style. Staking out her own turf as a hitmaker in the 1990s, Lorrie Morgan left behind the simplicity of dad's music in favor of a big, bright, glossy modern sound... and had a good run on the charts for the better part of the decade. Here's a quick look at her work...
Lorrie Morgan "Oh Boy! Classics Presents Lorrie Morgan" (Oh! Boy, 2002)
Part of a curious series released by John Prine's Oh! Boy label, in which early demos of various country stars are unearthed and released for fans... These recordings clearly were recorded before Morgan's 1989 debut, but were unreleased until now. It's cheesy music, but I actually kinda like it. By the time Morgan got her major-label makeover, she was already a very slickly packaged commodity; here, she sounds like a young girl of modest talent, earnestly hoping to make a name in Music City. The arrangements are lackluster, but to their credit the studio sidemen sound relatively engaged, and the presence of pedal steel and whatnot are a welcome contrast to the glossiness of her later work. It's not a great, earthshaking album, but I think it's kind of charming, in its own humble way. Worth checking out if you're a Lorrie Morgan fan.
Lorrie Morgan "Leave The Light On" (RCA, 1989)
Lorrie Morgan "Something In Red" (RCA, 1991)
This album had several big(ish) hits, but it sure did have some thin-sounding production on it, kind of like a hangover from the '80s style of tinkly, keyboard-based production, and penchant for toned-down Eisenhower-era rock riffs. She also sounds a bit like Dolly Parton... which kinda helps put her duet with Dolly ("Best Woman Wins") in its proper context... Nothing on here really moved me that much, nor do her vocals seem particularly strong. But I do admire her for covering some old stuff, like "A Picture Of Me Without You," for what that's worth. But the K.T. Oslin-ish nature of the album is kind of a turnoff for me... not very distinctive, really.
Lorrie Morgan "Watch Me" (BNA/BMG, 1992)
(Produced by Richard Landis)
The slow songs are fairly heinous, but she has a real way with frothy, lighter, upbeat material, like the album's opener, "Half Enough," and "What Part Of No," a feminist anthem that proved to be her biggest career hit. Her ease with poppy material is something of a tightwire act, though -- songs like the title track (and several others) walk too closely in the cloying pop path previously plowed by Reba McEntire... And I definitely do not mean that in a good way. For the most past, other than those first two songs, this is an album I can live without.
Lorrie Morgan "Trainwreck Of Emotion" (BNA, 1993)
Lorrie Morgan "Merry Christmas From London" (BMG, 1993)
Seasons greetings...! (By the way, if you like Christmas music, you might like to check out my Hillbilly Holiday section as well...)
Lorrie Morgan "War Paint" (BNA, 1994)
Glossy country-pop with glimmers of rootsiness. I like that she covers a few golden oldies, like Hank Cochran's "Don't Touch Me" and "A Good Year For The Roses," a nice duet with Sammy Kershaw, which is an album highlight (...although he could've toned down the exaggerated George Jones imitation a little bit...) Overall, I'd have to say this disc is a bit glossy and lackluster, kinda Reba-y, if you know what I mean...
Lorrie Morgan "Greater Need" (BNA, 1996)
(Produced by James (quit it) Stroud)
Generally speaking, a fairly strong album for Morgan... Sure, she's got a certain Reba-like cheesiness to her, and the ballads are pretty cloying, but she seems pretty focussed here. Some of the songs, like the peppy collaboration with Travis Tritt and Vince Gill ("Stepping Stones") are pretty good... Other uptempo numbers, like "Don't Stop In My World," suffer from some questionable and unnecessary key changes, but overall this disc has more listenable material than you might imagine. Lotsa guest stars, too -- Tritt, and Gill are joined by Alison Krauss, Jon Randall and Dan Huff (on guitar). It's glossy, but okay.
Lorrie Morgan "Shakin' Things Up" (BNA, 1997)
Lorrie Morgan "Secret Love" (BNA, 1998)
Lorrie Morgan "My Heart" (BNA, 1999)
Lorrie Morgan & Sammy Kershaw "I Finally Found Someone" (RCA, 2001)
Apparently, Morgan's marriage (her third) to Sammy Kershaw raised a few eyebrows in Music City, and this album's title track is a testament to their undying love... It's one of those drippy romantic ballads, complete with ringing Spanish guitars, that Kenny Rogers excelled at in the '80s. You hear it and think, "uh-oh..." but the uptempo feel of the next song brings a sigh of relief. It's only temporary, though: they go back into more goddawful, formulaic sappiness a minute later, and though there are some good tracks on here, by and large this is a pretty prefab album. The single, "He Drinks Tequila," is patently offensive -- it's about a lusty Latin couple living in a trailer park, who dance around their Winnebago and talk dirty en espanol -- the rest of the album wobbles around and hits a few high notes here and there. They're at their most George and Tammy on "Be My Reason," and Lorrie's solo number, "I Must Be Gettin' Older" is fairly resonant as well. Guess it's kinda cool to hear someone doing an entire duets album again, rather than just slipping them in a single song at a time, here and there. For the turf, this ain't bad.
Lorrie Morgan "The Color Of Roses" (Image Music, 2002)
Lorrie Morgan "Show Me How" (Image Music, 2003)
A nice album with a few scary moments. The lead track, "Do You Still Wanna Buy Me That Drink (Frank)" is an irresistibly perky, issue-oriented novelty song about a single mother fending off a pickup artist at a local low-rent bar -- it's a funny and effective tune, a real winner. Then she gets all drippy and power-ballad-y, and the album loses steam fast. The title track is a shockingly un-country pop tune, followed by a jittery crossover anthem, "We Girls," which is just a little too Bridget Jones' Diary for its own good. I also liked a pair of soft, almost singer-songwriter confessional acoustic tunes towards the end of the album -- "The Wedding" and "Charlie And Betty" -- which kinda might fit into the folkie-Americana format. Probably not a chartbuster, but an interesting album at times.
Lorrie Morgan "What Part Of No" (Rex Recordings, 2005)
Lorrie Morgan "Making Love For The First Time" (CBUJ, 2006)
Lorrie Morgan &
Pam Tillis "Dos Divas" (Red River Entertainment, 2013)
(Produced by Lorrie Morgan & Pam Tillis)
An interesting pairing of two veteran chartmakers of the 1990s, a couple of gals who certainly have a lot in common. Both Morgan and Tillis were the daughters of two pop-oriented honkytonk stars (George Morgan and Mel Tillis, respectively) who found great success in the rock-friendly landscape of early '90s Nashville and, like many artists of that era, found it hard to keep up as tastes changed at the decade's close. They both had their first big hits relatively late in life, around age thirty, and neither really lived in the shadows of their dad... Although they both embraced glossy pop crossovers, Morgan went further in that direction than Tillis, and after the hits stopped coming, Tillis was happy to indulge her (relatively) rootsy country leanings and seemed comfortable with the indie route; Morgan has recorded several indie albums, too, but she does seem pretty focussed on scoring another big hit, so sometimes she can try a little too hard or pick material that's a little too forceful and doesn't quite hit the mark. They each keep in character for this lively album, which is a combination of duets and mainly-solo performances: Tillis is more discreet and ballad-oriented, while Morgan pushes the envelope more, aiming for hits with big, poppy arrangements ala Nashville, 1996, or with outrageous, uptempo novelty numbers that stress her hard-partying, cougar-delic side. And I mean the cougar thing literally, as do they: the raunchy title track and the even more-explicit "Old Enough to Be Your Lover" hammer home their proud, party-down, bad-girl, baby-boomer sexuality. Get these gals tanked up in a bar with Lucinda Williams and Marshall Chapman, and it's mothers, lock up your babies! Even with the occasionally over-the-top production, this album has an undeniable undercurrent of charm and verve... Worth a spin, particularly if you were already a fan of either artist.
Lorrie Morgan "Letting Go... Slow" (Shanachie Records, 2016)
Lorrie Morgan "Greatest Hits" (BNA, 1995)
Lorrie Morgan "Super Hits" (BNA, 1998)
Lorrie Morgan "To Get To You: Greatest Hits Collection" (BNA, 2000)
Lorrie Morgan "RCA Country Legends" (RCA, 2001)
Lorrie Morgan "The Color Of Roses" (DVD) (Image Music, 2002)
Lorrie Morgan "Video Hits" (DVD) (BMG, 2004)
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