Image © Yep! Records 2002
Image © Jenny Morris 2003
(22 April 2003) New Zealand-born singer Jenny Morris first came to
prominence in her home country in the early 1980s as a member of a
band called The Crocodiles. However, she first came to world
attention as backing singer on Australian rock band INXS’
Listen Like Thieves world tour in 1985 and 1986,
which took in Australasia, The USA and Europe. Though the
band did not have their first major hit single in the UK
until the following year, the groundwork had already been
done on that tour and with Jenny in tow they stayed in
Europe for months, giving fans like me many opportunities
to sample her clear, powerful backing contributions.
In 1987, with INXS now major international stars, Jenny
struck out on her own. Her first solo album, Body And
Soul with several tracks produced by INXS’ Andrew Farriss,
performed well in Australia but made less of an impact abroad,
though the material was strong showcasing the clarity of Jenny’s
voice on upbeat INXS style songs, in the main, though the gentler
Neil Finn-penned "You I Know" was something of a departure. Two
years later, Shiver, this time entirely produced by Farriss,
suggested a maturing artist with much more variation, including the
joyful reggae of "Self Deceiver," the gentle love-song to her
unborn child "Little Little" and the up-beat woman’s anthem "She
Has to be Loved." Shiver was a huge hit in Australia, and
led to tours supporting Prince and Tears for Fears worldwide.
1991 saw the release of Honeychild, a much more dance-orientated
album, but again with excellent material, especially the funky "Break in
the Weather" with is wonderfully quirky, yet catchy chorus, and the
angelic "I’ve had you" co-written with Australian legend Paul Brady.
A compilation CD and video collection The Story So Far also
After a four year gap, 1995's Salvation Jane, though patchy,
was her most varied album up until then, with some of Jenny’s strongest
vocal work. The languid "Rhythm and Flow," with its Aboriginal influences,
contrasted wonderfully with the rasping "What do I do now" and the pure
pop of "In too deep," later a hit for Belinda Carlisle, while the
title track recalled the chug-along hits of INXS once more. For the
next few years Jenny dropped out of the limelight, combining occasional
gigs with work for environmental causes and her life as a mother.
Fast forward to the latest album Hit & Myth
(Yep! Records (Australia), YEP005 9330 9700 00405,
2002). Despite the long layoff, it sounds like the work of
a relaxed and confident woman. The production of Nick Wales has given
the album a polished, contemporary feel, with Jenny’s vocals placed
high in the mix, allowing the warmth of her voice to shine through.
This is especially evident on "Downtime," a relaxed, simple song
about relaxation! "Home" is a lush ballad with a glorious chorus, while
"Killer Man" is Jenny’s version of a James Bond theme song, with it’s
huge slide guitar and big chorus.
"I climb high" is a perky pop song written as a reaction to JFK Junior's
death, with an infectious game-machine like synth riff. "Into the Water"
is a deliciously rich and laid back song, while "The Blacksmith" introduces
very different instrumentation - Winsome Evans’ harp giving this traditional
song a wistful feel, with Jenny passionately expressing the folk lyric.
The pair of songs "It Happened Again" and "Dressing Gown" are simple,
sweet, light-hearted pieces about being in love, while "Guiding Star" is
a beautiful, gentle Neil Finn song. "The Sculptor" is the most ambitious
piece on the album, musically, its throbbing strings playing eastern rhythms,
while Jenny sings melodic variations on "The Blacksmith". Played loud,
this is a mesmerising piece. "Wailing Wall" is a simple, acoustic album
Throughout this album, Jenny’s vocal performances are warm, rich and
delightful, and the songs, though undemanding are performed with passion
and invention by a team of skilled backing musicians. The album is certainly
a progression from her previous work, and it’s good to see this talented
artist recording again. We look forward to the next phase of her
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order Hit & Myth from amazon.com here. Many of Jenny's prior albums are also available there.