Ken Will Morton has been kicking around the American Southland for about 15 years, playing with punks like Wonderlust and The Indicators, the latter a folky Americana outfit with a pop edge. Morton started writing while he was with The Indicators, but grew tired of the group and, apparently, stability of any kind. He ditched the band, packed his bags and started wandering. In the past few years he’s built a strong regional following on the vitality of his open-vein, stream-of-consciousness writing and affable stage presence.
In Rock’n’Roll’s Hands—Morton’s solo debut, recorded in bits and pieces over the past year with producer Chuck Jopski and a handful of talented sidemen—is ragged but powerful, sloppy and full of heart in the best sense of the garage-band tradition. Winning tracks include “Little Victories,” a celebration of life’s uphill battles, “Breaking Ties,” a meditation on the limits of friendships and love affairs, and “The Day the Sun Never Came Up,” an anthem for anyone who’s had to kiss a lover goodbye and hop on the lonely interstate. At times, Morton’s word-heavy lyrical spew bogs down the songs, many of which are built on linear melodies that are barely more than chord progressions. Still, even the weaker songs are peppered with clever turns of phrase. With a bit of judicious editing and more attention to melodic structure, Morton could easily be a contender.