It hasn’t been that long since we were treated the Mark Mortons long awaited debut solo album, Anesthetic with so many guests joining in that it could have made a Metal Allegiance album whimper. He hasn’t stopped to take much rest before getting back at it, with a much more relaxed vibe and atmosphere with his next solo attempt in the acoustic based EP Ether.
Continuing the route of including guests, some familiar names show themselves again this time around, and two very known songs get a nice arrangement too just to break things up. The soft approach the guests bring to the album really reflects the capability, complexity and diversity they all create as an environment together, Mark Morales (Sons of Texas) showing more sides with the opening and heart wrenching EP closer, in between comes a much softer sounding Howard Jones, a powerful display of vocal agility from Lzzy Hale worthy to be compared to the likes of Tina Turner, and possibly the least household name of the EP, John Carbone, but if anything, he and his band Moon Tooth will see a nice spike in interest from those unaware until now.
‘All I Had to Lose’ is a fantastic start that sets the tone, it’s warm, wholesome, and full of heart (and available for listening to now!) ‘The Fight’ grows on what blossoms from the start, a full band in the song opposed to the simple acoustic and vocal opener, the dynamic shifts through the approach and effects from verse to chorus and then the song takes flight.
Possibly the best part of this EP is that rather than throwing the covers tracks at the end of the three original songs as though they are bonus tracks, we get treated to one at the halfway mark. Black Crowes get some sensational treatment from the soaring, raspy glory of Lzzy Hale, and Mark Morton showing great control in the soft touches and embellishments that ‘She Talks to Angels’ really deserves. A cover that instantly becomes a classic in its own right. It’s hard to really think of how that can be followed, but Mark Morton is a man that is never one to shy away from challenges like that, next to the microphone comes Howard Jones, and as an EP full of surprises goes, the soft sounds of Howard bring something new and rarely heard, if at all before from the man himself. As the EP goes, the riffs here are the closest to the Mark Morton we know and love, but it’s the build in all these riffs and their growth that show how capable Mark is as a musician. A perfect song to showcase just how great the time spent in the studio with all these great musicians can be, the creativity is insurmountable, and I’m willing to bet there is far more material than what we’ve been treated to on Ether that didn’t make the cut.
Rounding off the EP returns Mark Morales, currently on tour with Mark Morton around the UK giving us their acoustic treatment, the song needs no introduction, Pearl Jams Jeremy, I’ll be honest, I’m no Pearl Jam fan, that said, there are a couple of tunes of theirs I love and this is one. Or at least I did, the song doesn’t really need talking about, it just deserves to be listened to, it wasn’t after too many listens that in my mind, I prefer the treatment this gets over the original.
Mark Morton finishes his UK acoustic tour in the capital, London tomorrow, a show we cannot wait to get caught up in, as EP releases go, this is set to be one of those contenders for EP of the year, and with this amount of talent, not to mention the abilities of the ever awesome Josh Wilbur producing and mixing, it will need to be something really special to steal Ethers crown.
Ether is due for release Friday the 17th of January via Rise Records!