The answer to your Drunken Prayer

If I lived in Brazil, would you come visit me?” asks Morgan Christopher Geer (aka Drunken Prayer) on “Brazil,” the opening track from his new album, Into the Missionfield. First this bit of news: You don’t have to. While Geer has been based in Oregon in recent years, making annual trips back east to Asheville and Western N.C., (where he launched his music career as a blues singer in the Warren Wilson College dorms), he is — with the release of Missionfield — officially back in Asheville.

Also good news: Missionfield rocks with a gritty conviction matched by crisp production and interesting arrangements. If Geer’s long-term fans have heard some of these songs before (“Ain’t No Grave” and “Take A Walk”), they’re remade on this album, all but discarding Geer’s previous lo-fi unplugged folk-noir for the growl of electric guitars and the tart smack and flash of the kind of kit drumming that involves drum stick acrobatics.

While Geer’s style is informed by a straight forward, on-the-beat Johnny Cash school of country blues, he adds edge and snarl in unexpected places. “Always Sad” pairs Geer’s rich and sturdy vocal with a sweet, soft female voice. “MaryJane” is all roadhouse swagger and ambling two-step recalling the organ rock of the Grateful Dead and the delicious whine and off-kilter stomp of outlaw country. “You Walk” revisits these themes, throwing in swanky horns parts and lithe, rambling organ.

The album’s title track is its grungiest, weighted with reverb and cymbal flourishes. It’s a story as much as a song, its cinematic aspects drawn out but a richly layered instrumental break that’s equally Beatles and Eagles. Here, Geer struts his prowess as an arranger and composer as much as a musician — though that skill, too, is evident in the range and expression he finds in a voice that initially presents as steadfast if not pliable.

While Geer has always been a talented performer (he’s also fronted ’90s rock outfit The Merle and country grunge act The Unholy Trio), with the varied moods and careful polish of Missionfield, Geer finds his voice and steps easily into the spotlight.

Read about Drunken Prayer’s 2009 EP here. Geer celebrates the release of Missionfield with a Saturday, Feb. 25 show at the LAB. The Treatment and DJ Lorruh also perform. 10 p.m., $5. 

SHARE
About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.