When Teddy Morgan moved to Austin in 1991, he was just a 20-year-old kid from Minneapolis with a bag full of hot blues-guitar licks. He made two albums for Antone's Records down there, but he never came up with much in the way of songs to go with those licks. On his third album, however, Morgan has finally grown up and become a songwriter as well as a picker. To do so, he had to go back to Minnesota and hook up with two Midwestern mentors, Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey.
Ramsey produced "Lost Love and Highways" and coaxed from Morgan 10 original songs that draw as much from rockabilly as from the blues and that say as much with their lyrics as they do with their riffs.
"Bullet from a Gun," for example, boasts a terrific, twangy guitar figure, but the words growled out by Morgan do even more to evoke the restless, even reckless urge to leave home after high school.
Songs like that and its sequel, "Nothing To Go Back To," echo the alternative country-rock of Steve Earle and Dave Alvin, but others, such as "I Ain't Waitin' No More," echo the laid-back swamp-boogie of Louisiana bluesmen such as Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester. Lazy Lester even resurrects his old tune, "A Word About a Woman," with Morgan's help.
In either guise, Morgan sounds so much stronger this time that this might be considered his true debut.
Appearing Friday at the Iota Cafe.
To hear a free Sound Bite from Teddy Morgan and the Pistolas, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8124. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)