Considering the weight of the ideas T. Hardy Morris is exploring on his new record Dude, The Obscure, it feels like his airiest work yet. Following 2015’s twangy Drownin’ On a Mountaintop, Morris is shedding some skin and getting at something a little rawer and more heartfelt. Dude, The Obscure soars and floats, at once dreamy and heady, even when Morris is rocking out (as he is prone to do). Questioning his place in the world, and striving to stay present in an ever more chaotic world, Morris digs deep on this album and seems to have found his own bliss in the process.
A cheeky play on famed English author Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude The Obscure, Dude, The Obscure sounds like a stoner’s spaced out tagline. And in many ways, the album gives us that vibe of getting so deep in your head to where it’s murky and dark, until you ultimately come out the other end feeling more like yourself. On “The Night Everything Changed,” Morris gets nostalgic for good times on the road and feeling connected to others by the memories we share. Recounting faraway cities, missed planes, and wasted money, Morris weaves a sweet, sublime thread made even more magical with the glide of steel guitar. “When the Record Skips” is a dark, heart-thumping ode to the idea of a legacy and what gets left behind. And though “Be” opens the record, it feels most like a culmination for Morris. It’s the album’s stunning peak, and a moment of reckoning as Morris strips away all the clutter that keeps him from moving forward.
Hailing from the artsy Southern enclave of Athens, Georgia, Morris hasn’t lost his twang, but this time around, his sound is elevated and meditative. He creates a big sound on Dude, The Obscure, with swooning arrangements that live somewhere above us and that compel us to look upward and reach for them to try and catch just a little bit of that sweet enlightenment within them.