“At this point, I’ve written my own soundtrack for the Trump era,” says Charlottesville-based singer/songwriter Keith Morris, whose new collection of songs, “American Reckoning,” was released on October 2, 2020. “I hadn’t originally intended to do that, but Trump has laid bare all of America’s sins. If you’re a writer, especially one who’s been interested in illuminating those areas, it’s all right there for you.”
Morris’s chronicles of life in Trump's America began during Trump’s 2016 campaign, and was kicked into high gear with the 2017 attack on Charlottesville by the white supremacist “Unite The Right” mob. Just a few months later, Morris emerged with the au courant “Psychopaths & Sycophants,” which warned of Trump’s psychopathic narcissism and fascist agenda, and voiced a collective outrage over Trump’s embrace of white supremacy.
“Psychopaths & Sycophants” was heralded by critics, who compared it to the works of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. Stereo Embers said Morris “takes on the Trump administration with the kind of musical fearlessness that falls somewhere between Woody Guthrie and The Minutemen.” It was selected by Dusted and Cashbox Canada as an “Indie Spotlight” album, and was eventually picked for the Ark of Music’s 2018 list of top albums.
“Both records spring from watching the Trump debacle,” Morris explains. “‘American Reckoning’ is about race in America—-historically up to present day. The white privilege we see, and have seen forever. It's about Civil Rights. Black lives. Subjugation and resistance. The tawdry groupthink of racists and scapegoaters, and the systems of oppression they embrace.”
“As many have said, America has always had a problem with race. As far as I've seen, that problem is pretty easily identified as 'white people.’ Whereas the Fox crowd once questioned the reality of 'white privilege,' they’re no longer able to do so with a straight face, as every day blares some atrocious reminder. But it's bigger than privilege—it's a longstanding hegemony.
Still, watching white people’s embrace of Trump and his racism has been appalling and disturbing. The Native Americans talked about 'Wetiko,' an evil spirit that invades human minds. It's a 'virus' of selfishness. A pathogen of the psyche forcing the victim to feed their insatiable needs as if they were starving. The Buddhists called it the 'hungry ghost.' We're living, full- blown, in the Age of Wetiko, and Trump is the apotheosis of all that."
This five-song collection examines these issues over a soundtrack that expertly weaves elements of Americana, blues, jazz, folk and rock. “American Reckoning” was recorded just outside of Charlottesville at White Star Sound, with producer/engineer Stewart Myers and a top-notch group of musicians, including: Daniel Clarke (k.d. lang), Charles Arthur (Slaid Cleaves), Stephen McCarthy (The Long Ryders, The Jayhawks), and John O’Reilly Jr. (Fun).
Morris’s first four albums, “Songs From Candyapolis,” “Love Wounds & Mars,” “The Dirty Gospel,” and “Psychopaths & Sycophants” received great acclaim from press and fans alike. “Love Wounds & Mars” and “The Dirty Gospel” both were included on several “Best Albums” lists-- from the likes of No Depression, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and others. No Depression wrote, “Morris is a monster of a songwriter…. Who else could put together an album so personal and yet so universal?” I Can’t Believe My Ears said of The Dirty Gospel, “If the heavens opened and rained music down upon us, I am certain it would sound exactly like Keith Morris & The Crooked Numbers’ new album, “The Dirty Gospel”….. Without a doubt, one of the best albums I have heard in a long time.”