Folk singer Jess Morgan discusses upcoming appearances in Cambridge
Jess Morgan is a Norwich-born singer-songwriter who released her debut album, All Swell, in 2010. Since then, the self-taught musician has released two more, Aye Me (2012) and Langa Langa (2014) – as well as three EPs. Her new long-playing effort is due to be launched commercially in April and goes by the curious title of Edison Gloriette.
To support her new batch of self-penned songs, Jess will tour the UK (including a couple of festival dates), kicking off a 14-date jaunt in Hackney, London at the Americana Music Association’s showcase on February 1. To coincide with Record Store Day (April 15), Jess – still based in Norwich – will be performing a solo set at Relevant Record Cafe in Cambridge on that date. She will also play at the same venue (again on her own) a couple of weeks prior to that (on Thursday, March 30). Jess’s Cambridge fans are therefore in for a treat.
“It’s a contraction of two cinema names,” said Jess, explaining where the title of the new album came from. “There was a point when every time I came across an interesting cinema name, I’d write it down if it sounded good. They’re just very lovely, exotic, grand, glamourous words. The list sat there on top of my piano and I experimented with putting them together and seeing what they sounded like.”
The new record is a collection of folk/roots music sung and played with heart, passion and gusto. “I’m not the sort of writer that would see a theme emerging and stick with it – I want to just write the best songs I can write,” said Jess, discussing the themes addressed on Edison Gloriette.
“When I make a record, it’s like a snapshot of what I’ve been doing, so I suppose the linking thread is that. This time I was thinking about old glamour, movies and romance – there are a few love songs in there and a few more reflective songs.”
When it came for Jess to start recording tracks for Edison Gloriette, she returned to Norway to team-up with her previous collaborators, producer HP Gunderson and producer and studio engineer Daniel Birkeland, who also worked with her on her debut LP. Two weeks in a quiet cabin, alongside a fjord on the outskirts of Bergen, was the ideal change of pace.
Jess also hopes to tour Norway later in the year. “I made my first album there in 2010,” she said of her strong connection with the country, “so having that first record, something I could give to people and say: ‘Here, this is my music’ it really opened some doors for me – it allowed me to get started.
“Making it where I did was really exciting and I made friends there and stayed in contact with everyone. I go over every year, probably a couple of times a year.”
Of her upcoming Cambridge shows, where she hopes to mainly showcase tracks from Edison Gloriette, Jess – who has played the Cambridge Folk Festival twice before – revealed: “They’re both at Relevant Record and March 30 will be my first gig there, which is great because I’ve heard really good things about them.
“I’ve wanted to catch a show there for ages but things just seemed to get in the way, like my own gigs elsewhere. I’m really pleased to be asked to perform there.
“It’s a record shop but they’ve also got a cafe and a bar and the gigs are from 7.30pm until 10pm. They’ve got two-for-one cocktails upstairs and they do things like pizzas to eat. It’ll be a nice intimate gig, but also in a place which is a celebration of music and artistry, which is great – I love to play in those kind of environments.”
At the gig on April 15 (for Record Store Day), Jess won’t be the only artist taking to the stage. “Record Store Day is a massive celebration of independent record stores and I believe at Relevant they’re having rolling music all day,” she said. “So I will be there, also with a limited number of homemade 7-inch records available exclusively at Relevant. They’ll have lots of things on for Record Store Day and I’ll just be part of the fun.”