I Didn’t Think About Rain by Jarrod Morris is one of my favourite songs of the last few years. Driven by blasts of harmonica and an unusual chord progression, it’s a man’s attempt to reckon with the end of a relationship via metaphor: houses in the valleys, a bad ending to a good movie, storms and cloudbursts. I stumbled into it while researching Red Dirt music, something I’ve spent two years doing for my Arc Radio show In The Red Dirt. A million people have streamed the song on Spotify, and I am sure all of them know that Jarrod Morris makes horseshoes for money and music for fun.
His Running on Change set, his second album, collects seven self-penned songs. An Acoustic Covers EP offers five interpretations. The covers first, which are a mixed bunch of melodies: The Middle by Jimmy Eat World, with some delicious double-stopped fiddle in the middle; Learn To Fly by Foo Fighters, with a reworked middle section; Another Day In Paradise, which stops abruptly to emphasise Phil Collins’ original point; and Forever and For Always, which cashes in on the return of Shania Twain and reminds the listener that great artists have great songs.
The most popular of the covers is the Rihanna song Desperado, which Jarrod transforms from a femme fatale-type pop song into a prairie folk acoustic number with light natural reverb on his vocal, which stays within a comfortable range and will appeal to fans of Kenny Foster.
Three songs feature as acoustic and studio versions are: album opener The One You Know, a breakup song which will provide comfort to people in similar positions; the fist-puncher Open Book (‘my stories always seem too perfect’); and When You’re Coming Down, which is driven by a three-chord loop and Jarrod’s wish to plough his own furrow and ‘ride my pony till the cows come home’. There is a long outro, which is nice to hear among tight streaming-friendly songs.
Western Tears is a literal interpretation of ‘there’s a tear in my beer’ told through a conversation between Jarrod and his wretched interlocutor. The chorus packs a punch too.
Truth Like A Lie has a memorable line in the chorus about ‘drinking like a fish, smoking like a train’ while Jarrod’s narrator tries to better himself so he can keep hold of his beloved, even if he doesn’t believe a word of what he says. The music is in a happy major key, which only serves to emphasise his message. Far less melancholy is the come-on If You Ever Wonder Why, which has a funky and alluring rhythm to soundtrack Jarrod’s invitation to ‘give me a try’. The saxophone solo may come across as pastiche, as does the slightly self-effacing lyric, but it does its job effectively.
Jarrod Morris seems to be making Red Dirt music on his own terms, which is actually an oxymoron. Every Red Dirt star makes music on their own terms.