Morgan Cameron Ross is an only child so going solo is in his nature. The past six years fronting and leading Torontos Birds of Wales hasnt always been easy or creatively fulfilling because he doesnt always play well with others. But his brand new self-titled solo debut is everything that he wanted it to be, made on his terms and timeline.
On this solo venture, Morgan was able to sing about whatever he wanted and arrange the songs any which way he pleased. Theres the dark acoustic story My Brother Went To Prison that would do Johnny Cash proud; the sprightly oh-damn tale 13C with a kind of straw-in-the-mouth country flavour; the beautiful resign Weve All Had Broken Hearts, co-written with Ron Sexsmith; and the peppy first single, Let It Go, one of three pop songs that kick off the album penned with Ian Smith, formerly of the Miniatures.
This album is everything I wanted it to be. For me, it was therapeutic. I just needed to get away from the control of everyone else, Morgan explains. I chose all the songs. It was produced the way I wanted it to sound. Birds of Wales had gotten away from me; I was taking too much guidance from management, record labels, producers and the like. I needed a different outlet.
Despite Birds of Wales accomplishments a 2006 single, My Lady In July, named most played song on XM Radios The Verge; 2007's Europe-only released Fall of the 49 EP ; a video for the song Cinderella receiving heavy rotation at Canadas MuchMoreMusic; all followed by the 2010 Canadian album, Belgravia Hotel, which yielded the successful single Uninteresting Morgan grew increasingly unhappy. Musically, the last album was too polished and by the time it came out I just wanted to get back to my roots he says.
On a personal note, I just wasnt good at maintaining healthy relationships within the band. Im an only child so having to share things and be around people all the time is an emotional thing. I assume I have quite an ego. I probably wasnt as thoughtful as I couldve been in a band situation.
On his own, Morgan just went for it, putting the plans in motion for his solo project. He had written hundreds of songs and applied to FACTOR for a demo grant, submitting an MP3 of 13 C as his calling card. Once the grant was awarded he called on producer Jon Anderson in Vancouver, where Morgan was born. I wanted to work with Jon, whose production Ive always loved, says Morgan.
In August 2010, Jon and Morgan recorded five songs, including Ill Hold On To Your Heart, My Brother Went To Prison, 13 C, Let It Go and Storybook Romance. Many of the songs are stories, either fictional or embellished from reality.
13C was written in 2008 after he noticed a cute girl on the airplane and then noticed her wedding ring. My Brother Went To Prison is about the perseverance of a young Canadian WWI soldier. Ill Hold On To Your Heart (featuring Holly McNarland on guest vocals) is about loving someone long after the break up; and the Sexsmith co-write Weve All Had Broken Hearts leads with the telling line sure seems I dont like happy.
But unlike many of the heart-sinking songs on this solo album, the first single, Let It Go, (with Daniel Wesley guesting on vocals) is full of positivity and the new video for the track features a gorgeous Golden Retriever puppy that will inspire many an aaaaw, so cute. The end of video directs fans to a website contest for their chance to name the dog.
Its a fun song and a fun and cute video. It isnt a deep song for me, says Morgan. Rhythmically, I love it and, lyrically, it talks about how I did things the hard way, but 'I know now what I didnt back then/ if I could do it all over / Id do it again.
And that includes everything hes gone through with Birds of Wales, a band, he points out, thats only on hiatus and already has new songs in the works. In the meantime, this solo album is pure Morgan Cameron Ross, which this only child now gets to share.
The new self-titled CD was released through Sparks Music on May 3, 2011.