Washington native Joshua Morrison doesn’t have the typical background you might imagine for a singer-songwriter who’s on the verge of making his mark in music. An Iraq war veteran, and still serving in the U.S. Army, Joshua is a young and contemplative musician whose time overseas has shaped his musical output. Eloquent and sincere, seductive and sultry, Morrison’s wispy, soft-spoken vocals and catchy acoustic melodies melt your heart. His full-length debut, Home, is one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard since its 2007 release. It’s a collection of compassionate diary entries that expose elements of loneliness, solitude, longing and love. His brooding and soulful lyrics are reflective of a man worn down from his displacement abroad and, perhaps, from having no choice but to await freedom and the far-reaching hope of returning ‘home’.
Luckily, home is exactly where Morrison was last Thursday night, if only for a brief stint between his transfer from North Carolina to Kentucky. His presence on stage at the Tractor Tavern contained a grateful and inspired energy. He spoke to the audience between songs and had a giddy enthusiasm and appreciation for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. When he broke into Madness’ ‘when I see your face, it gives me hope’, he seemed to have renewed hope and patience for his inevitable, yet distant, return home. Morrison confesses that he yearns for the day when he’ll return to Seattle for good, most likely in a couple of years’ time. And it’s hard not to root for him, since he’s such a gracious and likeable guy.
Given the lonely, personal and soul-searching nature of Morrison’s songwriting, one would expect him to be quiet and introverted. The truth is, he has a jovial, energetic and down-to-earth nature, and he enthusiastically addressed friends and fans who approached him throughout the evening. A sturdy man in his mid-twenties, one might mistake him for a football player, not a singer-songwriter.
Morrison’s performance at the Tractor Tavern was endearing and enchanting. He was accompanied on-stage by a cellist, bassist and drummer, all of whom were just as smooth and magnetic as he was. Together, they gracefully launched his gentle songs forward. Only a quieter audience and perhaps better sound pickup of Morrison’s whispery vocals would have made the performance perfect.