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The Divide

by Layperson

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about

"Having doled out a handful of brief and beautiful EPs as Layperson over the last five years, Portland singer-songwriter Julian Morris offers up a sustained and fully realized version of his solo project on The Divide, an intimate and open-hearted album of crystalline pop two years in the making. Morris has a seemingly effortless melodic sensibility that lives in the unlikely zone where Pernice Brothers and Elliott Smith and Tracy Chapman overlap, but his debut LP as Layperson did not come easy.

“The project has been a labor of love, and I have had to be much more patient with it than with previous releases,” Morris says. “In March of 2017, after having recorded a version of the album at Type Foundry Studio, I scrapped everything and started over at home.”

Freed from the constraints of a studio setting, Morris dissolved the band he’d been working with and got down to writing new songs and retooling tracks he’d already recorded. “Basically I just tried to re-insert myself back into the songs, to get them back to the place where I had intended them to be,” he says.

Morris, who cops to a perfectionist streak that tells him he’s never quite finished, had to fight with himself to get his songs to the place they were meant to be, as if his process was mirroring the album’s lyrical themes, which are largely given over to what Morris calls “the conflict, confusion and sacrifice of long term commitment.”

Morris eventually returned to Type Foundry to complete The Divide, but nearly half of the album consists of tracks he recorded at home, where he shared his works-in-progress with the very person who inspired many of them.

“My partner is often the first pair of ears on a song, even when the content is 99% her, and not very flattering,” he explains. “The songs helped me work out some truths, and her ability to hear them and even enjoy them kinda blew me away. It made room for all the feelings to just be okay.”

It is a bracingly intimate album, a private conversation made public, but it is not solipsistic in the least. It is not the work of a self-pitying sadboy. The Divide is pop-as-commiseration, an arm extended to the listener. I’ve been there, it says. Been there in that place where everything overwhelms. It’s hard. Life is hard. But let’s see, it says. Let’s see if we can get through it together." -Chris Stamm

credits

released March 29, 2019

All songs written by Julian Morris.
Recorded & Mixed March 2017 - August 2018 by Julian and Andy Rusinek at 9452 N Polk and the Type Foundry Studio in Portland, OR.
Mastered by Carl Saff.
Artwork and design by Gregory Beson.
Portrait of Julian by Sam Gehrke.

Many Thanks To: Izzy C, Mom & Dad, Meghan, Ben, Ryan, and Baby Finn. Marge McGrath, The Zen Monastery Peace Center, Andy, Dan and Sammy. Alex Fermanis for pedal steel on “Brakeless Heart,” Noah Bernstein for sax on “Ordinary Lies.” Christy, Wolfgang, Corbin and Amit for helping me with the first draft. Steve, Elias, Skyler and Jason for helping me touch home.

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Track Name: The Divide
As for me well I’d have followed you into a black night,
With stars in my eyes.
But in a never ending trade so the night begets the day,
I lost sight of you.
So here is the divide, though I’ve been calling out for you,
You’re just like water in my hands, you were only passing through.
Here along the edge of town we drink the moment or the moment will drink us down.
And I was never one to claim, but I was glad to share your name,
And say it outloud.
But here is the divide, though I’ve been calling out for you,
You’re just like water in my hands, you were only passing through.
Track Name: Technicolor Skin
I want the one with the technicolor skin.
I want so bad that I can’t think of anything else to believe in.
I am afraid, how I behave in my dreams,
Cause in my dreams I am really badly behaved.
I want the sheen that turns a body to glass,
I want to see myself in what I want, reflecting back.
I get so hungry when the lights go out, I can’t control myself,
I do not know myself. I take as much as I can possibly get,
It’s all for one, and all for one, it’s all for one, and one for none.
I want to wake with a body full of fire,
I want to live in the place that is the center of desire.
I am afraid how I behave in my semi-conscious state.
I am depraved, how I behave in my semi-conscious state.
I get so hungry when the lights go out, I can’t control myself,
I do not know myself. I take as much as I can possibly get,
It’s all for one, and all for one, it’s all for one, and one for none.
Track Name: Caught Around Your Heart
I could arrange to come by your house,
Here are the words to banish all doubt.
I had a dream you lay down beside me,
I had a dream it rose beyond rising.
I’d like to get caught around your heart,
I make a really good start when I get caught around your heart.
Love is a lark, love is at the reins, love as a crutch will only betray you.
You learned to call me by a new name,
Save for the words the feeling is the same.
That’s when you got caught around my heart,
You make a really good start when you get caught around my heart.
I’d like to get caught around your heart,
I make a really good start when I get caught around your heart,
Man I really make my mark when I get caught around your heart.
I’d like to get caught around your heart.
Track Name: Big Voice Nowhere
Sleepin, hope no one can see in, cause when I’m dreamin,
I’m really badly behaving.
Morning, I watch the light make the familiar shapes of my room.
I try to listen hard to the big voice calling from nowhere,
But I’m not always sure I can handle what I’ve been handed,
Or if I can stand it, or if I can.
Crying, I see inside when, you shine a light on how you’ve been feeling. Holding, it’s the returning of the feeling, I can bring you back to yourself.
I try to listen hard to the big voice calling from nowhere,
But I’m not always sure I can handle what I’ve been handed,
Or if I can stand it, or if I can.
Track Name: Ordinary Lies
Call and answer, Mama’s dancer, minces no words,
Just so things can get better.
I am not your rival, you did not betray me.
Have you seen me lately? I still hear you calling me out.
Something about these ordinary lies, stacked up,
They are where I’ve been hiding. Are you around?
Can I call you in five?
I’ve made an arrangement of words to cover the space dividing.
One and four will cut you, two and three will kiss you,
I am so afraid I’d miss you.
It’s all smoke and mirrors, trying to love you cleaner,
I bury my face in the water.
Something about these ordinary lies, stacked up,
They are where I’ve been hiding. Are you around?
Can I call you in five?
I’ve made an arrangement of words to cover the space dividing.
Track Name: All The Blinking Lights Of Vegas
After everything was said then,
All the blinking lights of Vegas came and tucked you under, quiet.
I got drunk and walked around, stumbling, lonely in the loneliest town.
Could you come pull out your arrows?
And remind me why I paint your name across my lifeline?
Quiet. Desert stars and desert streetlights blended,
Crooked words, our fraying ties, we count them.
The Colorado pumped into a fountain,
The boulevard is resting in the mountain.
Lots of all this loving is just guessing, and finding strength to meet you in the morning.
Track Name: Funeral Dance
It’d take a funeral dance to derail my mind,
Bodies sway in line, and bend like the wind in the pines.
And just as I’ve arranged myself I’m plucked off the vine,
I listen for the chimes, but it’s always the dead keeping time.
A call to arms, abandon caution, takes a strong, strong love,
To age past blossom.
When I dream, I’ve got my arms around the sun,
When I wake, I’ve got my arms around someone.
I am as capable as I am divine, the body fails in time, you replay your life. So when you get to me, will you take your time?
I wonder where it flies, the memory that’s free of a mind.
A call to arms, abandon caution, takes a strong, strong love
To age past blossom.
When I dream, I’ve got my arms around the sun,
When I wake, I’ve got my arms around someone.
It’d take a funeral dance to derail my mind.
Track Name: Brakeless Heart
In those early hours, I’d wear my dress for you.
I could take a running start, I had a brakeless heart.
Afternoons came easy, on the cloudless days,
Oh but I could see the coming dark, you rearranged my heart.
And as for the dreams we’ve had, we find ourselves committed,
To what’s left after they have split apart.
In some cruel derailment, like a trackless train,
You will live for your song, I will get dragged along.
I turn on the radio, to escape my fate,
I like to hear a loving tone, I take the long way home.
And as for the dreams we’ve had, we find ourselves committed,
To what’s left after they have split apart.
How I learned to love you, how I learned to lie,
And to live in the space between, in the twilight of my dreams,
Well, that’s not me.
Track Name: Somebody Already Knows
Why the cold case? Where is the progress?
I begin to doubt.
That was stained glass, caught in a cracked mirror,
I am folding and holding all my reasons for it.
But somebody already knows, somebody already knows,
Some part of me already knows.
Here on the long road, age of the ageless, here with the west on fire.
Moon in a dead tree, big smoke in the tall grass,
I want to feel that I’m holding all my reasons for it.
But somebody already knows, somebody already knows,
Some part of me already knows.

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