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A Soulful Evening with Carla Morrison

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Elias Ephron reviews the Mexican alternative indie artist and Latin Grammy winning musician Carla Morrison’s recent intimate Bristol Show.

The Mexican singer Carla Morrison’s May 3rd Concert at The Station was – in a word – angelic.

With that I refer not just to the singer’s vocals, which enveloped the small space in a cloud of velvet, rising at moments into the operatic, but also to Morrison’s disposition.

So intimate was the performance, I felt myself incredulous that this infectiously kind young woman, telling deeply personal anecdotes, taking questions from the audience within the set, and musing on the her past relationships, the death of her grandparents, and love in “junior high school”, was a Latin Grammy-award winner, whose career had spanned ten years, three albums, two EPs, and performances for audiences of up to sixty-thousand.

Tonight, Carla Morrison, was our friend, and none of her career achievements, no matter how impressive, insulated the audience from the contents of her soul.

Her vocal and lyrical power never wavered. Particularly noteworthy for me were her performances of “No vuelvo jamás”, a musing on the final moment of a relationship, and “Pajarito del amor”, in which Morrison explored the innocence in young love and reflected on the death of her grandfather. Whistling within the song, she invoked for the audience his spirit, which she explained has visited her family home yearly in the form of a bird.

Rolling through her songs characteristically with supreme softness in moments, and belting out near operatic in others, Morrison showed the audience that she is no shrinking violet. While her studio recordings may present the most serene side of her work, she was markedly free tonight, allowing her voice to break, finding moments to apply a welcome, rough, soulfulness.

With an extremely well received ode to Portishead, and to the English city in which she now found herself, Morrison performed an improvised cover of “Glory Box”. This appeared rather spontaneous, and while she seemed unsure at moments, she carried it beautifully, endowing it with her own unique vocal take, but staying true to the spirit of the song.

In a final testament of love to her country of birth, Morrison ended the night with a transcendent arrangement of the classic ranchera song “Paloma negra”. This left me on the edge of my seat, as she captured both the emotional build, and rawness, of the original piece, all the while with her familiar serenity. It was a rendition that I was initially skeptical of, but proved to be a refreshing take on a classic that I felt could never be topped.

The evening we spent with Carla Morrison was a warm one, filled with the singer’s radiant vocals, but also with her personal charm and well-wishes. This was the singer’s first performance in a year, and it showed, in the greatest sense possible. She was raw, funny, bubbly, disarmed, and with us at every moment.

Feature Image: Carla Morrison Música