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Rock: Americana Moods: Type: Lyrical Folk: Folk-Rock Blues: Blues Gospel Rock: Folk Rock

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United States - Virginia

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Keith Morris & the Crooked Numbers

In the tradition of songwriting greats Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Vic Chesnutt, Keith Morris & The Crooked Numbers combine literate songwriting with accomplished musicianship to create music that gets at the heart of how it feels to be alive.  Described by singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt as a “street hustler/spirt guide,”  Morris embodies the voice of the outsider pushed to an edge by personal experience amidst a world that seems intent on collapse. A feeling of alienation runs through the music, as does a palpable psychological urgency, and an innate yearning–a search for deliverance, for redemption amidst decay.  This is honest, gritty music that rings true to something essential.  “The core at the center of the music is this Keith Morris character,” writes songwriter/poet Tom House.  “Every song–slash lines smart like Dylan–he defines himself, how he deals with his world, views it, beats it, and is beaten by it.”

Morris’s first two albums, “Songs From Candyapolis” and “Love Wounds & Mars,” received great critical acclaim. Now, critics are hailing the release of the band’s third album, “The Dirty Gospel,” which has made three “Best Albums of 2015” lists (No Depression, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Perfect Sound Forever). No Depression writer Frank Gutch calls it “One of my top album picks of the year.... Morris is a monster of a songwriter.... Who else could put together an album so personal and yet so universal?” Jaimie Vernon (Segarini blog) writes “It’s difficult focusing on specific tracks because the entire album is a solid soul flogging from beginning to end. If you like your Tom Waits more groovy, if you like your Dylan less obtuse and if you like your Tom Petty without Jeff Lynne, this is the record for you.”

“The story behind the album is a rough one, but I don’t think there’s any getting around it,” explains Morris. “Most of the songs came out of my brother’s suicide a couple of years ago. When something like that happens, all bets are off. For about a year, I was pretty much incommunicado. During that time, I poured the emotions of it all into songwriting. I’d work all night, and wake up the next day and refine what I’d written. It was a form of therapy. During this time, some songs just came to me. ‘Psychopaths & Sycophants’ came to me out of a dream--the main riff and the first verse and chorus. Same thing with ‘Dopesick Blues,’ which came to me while driving one day. It was like the whole song just fell in my lap. I think the most interesting story about the channeling of songs on this album is “Pale Moon,” which came like a lightning bolt the night I found out my brother had killed himself. It was like I could feel his presence in the room with me, and it said ‘pick up the guitar.’ I did, and immediately what came to me was the riff for ‘Pale Moon.’ It didn’t feel like I wrote it; it felt like it was given to me.”

The Crooked Numbers, stellar players handpicked from Charlottesville’s fertile music scene, alternately wail, whisper, slam, float and sting throughout.  Subtle nuance in one song turns to catharsis in another, and the band handles the varying moods seamlessly.  “The whole band deserves credit,” writes Gutch. “Tom Proutt plays with grit and attitude I have not heard from him before, his guitar growling and barking and even biting at times. Bud Bryant and Stuart Gunter lay bass and drums bedrock so well you would think they were twins, and Mike Kilpatrick fills in on guitar and lays out a superb pedal steel when called upon. But the choir makes the album--four voices dipped in sugar and honey in just the right proportions. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love harmonies and these ladies offset Morris's lightly graveled voice so well....”