Denver based singer-songwriter Justin Hulsey knows how to write about the harsh realities of life while still maintaining the uncanny ability of doing it in a way that beckons the listener to sing along and rock back and forth in defiance. He recently sent us his second full-length release Morning Bloom, and though it took a few listens to fully appreciate, I quickly became hooked to his brand of Nashville soaked rock.
Album opener “The Waiting Room” is an ethereal tune played over machine gun lyrics that set the mood for the album with genre bruising confidence. It’s a surprisingly singable song that treads on matters of judgment, death, and disappointment. It may be a bold move to open an album on this note, but it truly shows the brazenness of Hulsey who has a direct line to the deeper things of life and belts them out with a resiliently powerful voice.
“Set a Fire” is a pure gem and probably one of the more accessible tracks on the album. This is also the tune most likely to set up residence in your head for weeks after. Hulsey’s trademark lyrics are pronounced over a relentless drumbeat and heavy guitar sway. You are definitely going to like this one.
“The Leaving” is his take on country heartbreak documenting a doomed relationship that states “it feels so good when it breaks my heart”. Hulsey is able to beautifully illustrate the highs and lows of relational uncertainty and does so with the help of just enough female backing vocals that bring unity to his melancholy. It is also nicely paired with similar tunes “Fatal the Heart” and “Don’t Play That Record”. While “Honesty” is a guitar driven track that showcases the artist’s overall talent for making well rounded, heart on your sleeve; punch you in the face rock and roll. This attitude is continued with force on album closer “How to Shoot With a Steady Hand”.
Morning Bloom has a certain morose beauty that stays with you long after the album ends. Justin is definitely deserving of any praise and Ryan Adams type comparisons that he may receive. A truly thoughtful and talented artist, he is sure to rattle some hearts and comfort some souls with his recent release. iTunes is doing a special pre release for the album starting March 17, followed with an official release on April 7th, but in the meantime you can listen to a teaser of the album here. Or, if you like the option to pay what you want for music, you can download his Youth Gods EP at any cost you see fit to pay (including free!!) here.