Northland album release article: “International Music Collaborations” By Jon E Clist
It wasn’t that long ago that David Lyle Morris ticked over the half-century on this planet. For many people, this is one of those milestones that signify the slowing down in order to take a long look back at all that has been achieved so far. With 14 albums already under his belt, Morris shows no signs of slowing down and in turn, the new season of his life sees the release of yet another collection of songs about how faith and hope temper the struggles of this world. As Northland is about to release, Morris is ready to attempt the simplification of elements of his life in order to ramp up the energy towards his ministry work.
The middle 11 of Morris’ 15 albums focused heavily on worship in their style and direction. Coming from his many years travelling to a wide range of countries while working alongside well-loved worship leaders such as Graham Kendrick, Robin Mark and Darlene Zschech. It was through these adventures that David Lyle Morris stumbled into a long-term musical relationship with the beautiful country of Finland.
Morris first visited Finland in nineties with Graham Kendrick. Back then he was spending his time working as Kendrick’s PA while also playing in his band. It started off leading worship in a youth summer conference that in turn opened up a stream of ministry for many years to follow. “I had admired Finland as a military kid, and seen photos of their white-clad soldiers battling the Russians in the snow during the Winter War of 1939-1940”, says David Lyle Morris.
In more recent years this connection with Finland has led to an important directional adjustment for Morris. A new season returning him to his roots in the musical style of the Blues, as a songwriter writing songs to touch the hearts of those on the fringe of the church, the broken, the seekers, those in need of healing. “I think over the last seven years in particular, we have found in increasing measure that our faith in Jesus is all about wrestling to find his hope in suffering, as opposed to a theology of victory and prosperity. In a song we wrote for a gorgeous girl in Finland, Amanda, who lived for one day on earth, we say ‘God does not count the value of life by the number of days here on earth – for there’s eternity’”, shares Morris.
It seems a well-balanced partnership comes from this new lyrical direction and the heavy influence of his Finnish collaborators. The Finnish sound has a beautiful yet painful sense of lament, with the influence of Eastern Europe through it, as these are a people who have suffered much. For Morris, there is a strong connection with this, through not only the stories of those around him but also that of his wife’s own struggle with cancer. Dark days of pain and struggle washed over David and his family and yet the hope of the Lord lay firmly wrapped around them like a soft and warm blanket on a cold winter’s night. Of course, it has been said that out of great pain comes great art and this is profoundly evident on Northland.
However, it is not just the merging of musical styles and sounds that have influenced this new release; it is also about the people. As with his previous album Endlessly, Northland sees strong partnerships growing with other Finnish songwriters such as Anders Liljestrom. Anders not only partners in the song-writing duties but by day is a well sort after luthier. The modern day technology makes it easy to throw song ideas back and forth across the massive distance between New Zealand and Finland. This is evident on the track entitled Medals. This song was lyrically inspired by the experience of David’s Father and his time-fighting in the Second World War. His was a brutal short war that included a period as a prisoner of war in Germany. Morris knew that it was time to write a song for his father and therefore jotted a few lines down while on tour around Finland. The resulting lyrics were then emailed to Liljestrom who in turn crafted a chord structure for it to bring life to the words. The rest, as they say, is history. Northland is by definition an international collaboration that proves beyond a doubt, that often a team is more valuable than the sum of its individual parts. Something that David Lyle Morris has learnt to embrace throughout his music career.
Whilst the focus of his albums may have slightly changed of late, David’s calling to worship ministry is still very much his passion and sees him spending his time travelling not only around New Zealand but also to far off shores to share the lessons that he has learnt.
When asked what the future might hold for him, Morris says, “Definitely a time to kick on! There is a new energy you can find as your kids grow up, to do the things you have dreamed of – and you get to work with awesome young people, who fire up your spirit and imagination with their creativity and naivety”.
Jon E Clist is an announcer at Rhema Media and can be heard hosting the Homegrown Kiwi Music Show every Saturday Night at 6pm on New Zealand’s Rhema.
We are thrilled to release our 15th album ‘Northland’ on Sat 9 August at The Upper Room, 10 a Clayton St, Newmarket, Auckland, 7.30 pm
The live band featuring Derek Lind will perform all the new songs
Going to be a blast!
Come and join us for a great night
Had a ball in Finland touring the new album in June
Look out for a reveiw from Chris Geldard real soon
Christian Life are publishing an article on the album next week here in NZ
Thanks for your support
Love, David and Liz and boys
When did music lose its innocence?
Sure there have always been streams of the music industry that have been pushing the boundaries and that’s great but doesn’t it seem that everything has just been condensed down to love and hate?
It’s like we have taken the prized bull and boiled it up until all we have is an Oxo cube… do we really want beef stock rather than the bull itself?
To a point, we can expect that from the secular music industry… cliche after cliche, remix after remix of a song that used to be famous when people still used to play music and sing music as if it was a craft that was about connecting people rather than just making a quick buck… with the sole focus to make people famous.
I can understand that from the secular music industry… but when did our church music become so obvious and bland?
I’ve listened to Kiwi singer/songwriter and worship leader David Lyle Morris for a couple of years now… and the first thing that comes to my mind is ‘innocence’.
David has this amazing ability to craft songs that would have stood alongside the great artist such as Air Supply, James Taylor and Carole King.
His writing is honest, it’s heartfelt, it’s thoughtful and with the fear of sounding condescending I am tempted to use the word ‘sweet’.
In fact, the first time I saw him lead worship with just an acoustic guitar, I closed my eyes and I could almost imagine what it might have been like to worship with King David (if he played a guitar not a harp!)… there is a real authenticity that some people try to mimic but that you just can’t fake, and when you are around David Lyle Morris you just know that his heart is to help turn your eyes to God.
The album ‘Endlessly’ is a well-crafted album and the album starts with ‘Start of something new’ a song for his co-writer Anders Liljestrom’s boy Eino.
It’s a really honest song talking about the excitement and the forward-looking nature of a Dad excited to share in the first moments with his son and the legacy that the Father wants the son to take up… Lines like “This is the start of a family tree, you’re the little branch under me” show the simplicity of David and Andrers’ lyrics while at the same time casts great imagery.
In fact, this album is full of so much imagery, and not in a daunting and heavy way but in a way that helps you relate with the song. In fact, it really enhances the songs. Songs like ‘Caledonia Girl’ reminds me of James Taylor… the storytelling, the melodic way that the music draws you into the story.
Endlessly is an honest album… Songs like ‘Open my eyes’ really start to showcase the pureness of David’s vocals and the team around him just gently push, and nudge the song to enhance its colour.
Do you know what an album sounds like when you can tell that each instrument and layer and nuance of the song is there to make the other instruments sound better?.. it sounds like ‘Endlessly’.
It’s full of space… it’s full of meaning… it’s uncluttered and real.
Maybe David Lyle Morris is New Zealand’s own shepherd worship leader?
Maybe David is our new contemporary version of David the shepherd boy?
Excited to be returning to Finland in June 2014, after a super tour in November 2013, when we started recording our new album to follow up ‘Endlessly’.
Come and see our super band and hear the new album!
1. Saturday 14 June Dei Festival in Seinajoki
David and band play at 4pm at Radio Dei’s big summer celebration
2. IsoKirja’s Midsummer Conference in Keuru
Thurs 19 June – 7pm concert at Keuruu event with Nina Astrom
Friday 20 June – 5pm English worship session
3. New album launch gig with Olli Helenius
Sture 21 Helsinki 7pm we will ahve a party to celebrate the new album, and play all the songs with the full band! You have got to be there!
When I was touring Finland in November 2013, we grabbed 2 days in Manku’s (Markus Vainiomaki) Helsinki studio. We had a ball recording 13 songs, including current live favourite song ‘I am yours'( based on the final days of Dietrich Bonhoeffer), and a bunch of new blues numbers. The band totally rocked. We are finishing off the album to have it ready for June in Finland and August in NZ.
This our 15th album has a working title of ‘Music in me’ based on a rocker I wrote at Marty Crowe’s batch, looking back on my 50 years, and how Jesus and the wonderful music and people in my life, have shaped who I am.
Can’t wait for you to hear the band an especially Teemu Viinikainen’s astounding blues and acoustic playing. Wait till you hear the stonking guitar on ‘What goes up’, ‘Relentless’ and ‘Somewhere, someone’ co-written by Anders Liljestrom. 10 of the songs are co-writes, Anders is such a great writer and luthier, with the other 3 that I bought to the table pretty much complete and road tested in Thames and Newmarket. Anders song ‘Bluebird’ is an absolute tear jerker!
If you’re a kiwi – pencil Saturday 9 August in the evening for a launch concert at The Upper Room, Newmarket, Auckland.
Appreciate your prayers and support to see this baby birthed!
God bless you