12 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

No one’s done more to shape the narrative of Morrissey being a morose misfit from dreary working-class England than Morrissey himself. (Rarely did the sun ever shine in any of his former band The Smiths’ classic '80s albums.) But the truth is, he's lived in Los Angeles on and off for more than 20 years now—and on his last few albums, amid his typically lacerating lyrical barbs (and despite some off-wax political rants that have angered many fans), he has exhibited an increasingly upbeat disposition, relatively speaking. He’s also long been a fan of cover songs. So for his 12th solo LP, and his first composed entirely of tunes written by others, he focuses on music from the '60s and '70s that tends to evoke the sunny vibes of his adopted home state.

With occasional help from the likes of Petra Haden, Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, and a few other friends, Morrissey reshapes these often subdued songs into opulent affairs, his voice as boisterous and articulated as ever over glossy, modern-feeling production. He comes at "Morning Starship" (by one of his idols, the unheralded glam-rock singer Jobriath) with gale force, and turns Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Suffer the Little Children” into a thrumming, rollicking rock song. And he has a great deal of reverence for Joni Mitchell’s dynamic swings and swoops in “Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow.” The album isn’t without camp, mind: The 5th Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues,” on which he’s accompanied by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and The Regrettes’ Lydia Night, feels tongue-in-cheek in a way that it probably doesn’t even mean to. Where Morrissey most succeeds here, though, is on the real vocal showcases of the AM Gold era, where his torchy croon lights up Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over” and Gary Puckett & The Union Gap’s "Lady Willpower.”

Apple Digital Master

EDITORS’ NOTES

No one’s done more to shape the narrative of Morrissey being a morose misfit from dreary working-class England than Morrissey himself. (Rarely did the sun ever shine in any of his former band The Smiths’ classic '80s albums.) But the truth is, he's lived in Los Angeles on and off for more than 20 years now—and on his last few albums, amid his typically lacerating lyrical barbs (and despite some off-wax political rants that have angered many fans), he has exhibited an increasingly upbeat disposition, relatively speaking. He’s also long been a fan of cover songs. So for his 12th solo LP, and his first composed entirely of tunes written by others, he focuses on music from the '60s and '70s that tends to evoke the sunny vibes of his adopted home state.

With occasional help from the likes of Petra Haden, Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, and a few other friends, Morrissey reshapes these often subdued songs into opulent affairs, his voice as boisterous and articulated as ever over glossy, modern-feeling production. He comes at "Morning Starship" (by one of his idols, the unheralded glam-rock singer Jobriath) with gale force, and turns Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Suffer the Little Children” into a thrumming, rollicking rock song. And he has a great deal of reverence for Joni Mitchell’s dynamic swings and swoops in “Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow.” The album isn’t without camp, mind: The 5th Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues,” on which he’s accompanied by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and The Regrettes’ Lydia Night, feels tongue-in-cheek in a way that it probably doesn’t even mean to. Where Morrissey most succeeds here, though, is on the real vocal showcases of the AM Gold era, where his torchy croon lights up Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over” and Gary Puckett & The Union Gap’s "Lady Willpower.”

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Ratings and Reviews

3.8 out of 5
68 Ratings

68 Ratings

57Clash ,

Big Mo does The Big O

Morrissey is the perfect singer to do a Roy Orbison cover. This is a great version. I wish he did more of Roy's songs. Looking forward to the whole album

Hillcrest SD ,

Morrissey is a Baby Boomer

Covering artists likeJoni Mitchell, BobDylan, Phil Ochs, Roy Orbison, Laura Nyro ,Tim Hardin and Melanie Safka shows that Morrissey does know where it’s at despite all the debate regarding everything he does. Can’t wait to hear Morrissey
and his versions on the upcoming album.

Gubben57 ,

Blue eyes crying once again

Moz just straddled two worlds with this new albums of covers. California Son is s nostalgic trip with mostly protest songs from decades past, songs about the underdog masses, the poor.
The other world is one is his personal political statements and "dog whistle" moments like controversial pin wearing on TV.

I am a few years older than Morrissey and he is the last person in the world who I would have predicted to have become a middle aged grump and not in a million years a person who would take the side of the oppressors.

His past few albums had anger which is a legitimate emotion to write into a song but these days that anger is not directed at those in power but those without. His wonderful wit has vanished and compassion turned to loathing.

California Son may not have been Morrissey's idea completely although some of his best recording in the past several years have been covers of artists who inspired him. Perhaps his manager or a very dear friend suggested it was time to chill out on new material and do one of those “my career is over and to prove it here is a nostalgic album of classics which won’t rock nor rock anyone’s boat.”

Morrissey thank you for decades of music many of which I still listen to, you will be missed.

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