Scarcely a year after his third release as a solo artist, 2010's Spies Lies and Burning Eyes, the notoriously deliberate singer/songwriter/poet R.B. Morris is already on the cusp of releasing his fourth, Rich Mountain Bound, a no-frills, 12-song collection featuring Morris alone in the studio, singing and playing acoustic guitar. It's worth noting that Spies followed more than a decade after his previous record, 1999's Zeke and the Wheel on Koch Records.
The record consists of mostly older Morris tunes, a few of them well-worn live favorites, but most of them thus far unrecorded.
"I have some friends up on Rich Mountain—I own some property up there," Morris explains. "Whenever I visit, they're always telling me that their favorite songs of mine, the ones we play and sing on the porch, that I never put those on a record. So this was their idea. A whole lot of them have never been documented. Some had been forgotten."
Morris says he holed up in a studio in Asheville, N.C., with engineer Nathan Milner, who won a Grammy for his work with Doc Watson. With Morris and his mountain friends each having made lists of old favorites they wanted to hear recorded and preserved, he sat down and "sang and sang, all night and all day long."
All told, about 50 songs came out of the session—"old country songs, old love songs, and highway songs, songs with a mountain in them." Then the idea sparked to take a handful of the tracks and release a full-length album.
Morris expects the full-on release to take place in about a month, with a CD release show scheduled for Sept. 30 at the Laurel Theater. In the meantime, he's soliciting presales via his website to get enough cash flow to finish the first run of printing—he says he has it "about 75 percent paid for." Presale cost is $15.
Morris relates a story about the track "Old Copper Penny," which leads off the new album. He says at many shows past, he would call out the song for performance, and whisper to longtime guitarist Hector Qirko just before settling into the tune—"Watch the merchandise table."
Sure enough, he says, someone would come up to the table at song's end and ask "Which album has that ‘Copper Penny' song?" They would inevitably leave, frustrated, upon learning the song was unavailable on record.
The point being, says Morris: "I think of this as some of my better material. I wanted to give these songs a life."