Recent Thunder by Big Best Friend finds artist and songwriter Morgan Motes contemplating the importance of nature and escape to that “real world” for a life well lived. There’s a shamanistic quality to Big Best Friend’s music that wouldn’t be out of place on late-60’s psychedelic acoustic project. There is also a darkness to this collection tempered only by a subtle silver lining of hope.
Motes writes, performs, and records all parts of Big Best Friend projects himself. Recent Thunder finds Motes playing with effects beyond traditional acoustic guitar and voice. A variety of found sounds and layered textures provides Motes, a talented visual artist as well, with a wide pallet from which to paint his sonic landscapes. Recent Thunder opens with “Wind in the City” building from a hollow soundscape centered on acoustic guitar to a whirl of sounds, intermingling vocals, and found sounds that evokes a building wind. Motes repeats, “There is no wind in the city”, as if to conjure the aural wind that arrives as the song concludes.
The title track, “Recent Thunder,” evokes images that speak to the dissolution of self, “with you unmade, you cut my hair, with my own switchblade, recent thunder, i got lost in the big broad anything.” On “Recent Thunder”, lyrical repetition drives the song to a place beyond the everyday inviting you into the world of Big Best Friend. Reminiscent of the darker chapters of Lenord Cohen or early Songs:Ohio bedroom recordings, “Recent Thunder” pairs deep moody vocals with a simply plucked acoustic guitar. On “Water” Motes sings, “while you were resting, i was out making friends, i met some see-through men, with eyes like champagne, teeth bared like a stray, it made water in my eyes” over a plunky banjo whose playfulness belies the depths of sadness hiding in the lyrics.
“Spaceman” lightens the mood however, with a series of biting tongue and cheek lines that dissect modern computer culture’s short comings and the shifting nature of love; “your facebook friends don’t love you, they would eat you like the vultures, (if they could)”. “Future Life Song” deals with the painful break with or loss of the past that pushes one on to build a life of your own, “though i’ll miss the lake, where my grandfather swam, but i will build a new home”. Motes struggles with love, loss, and the confidence to grow. This struggle continues, but finds courage, or maybe the better word for it is hope, as he sings, “you are the only one i love, but love can be coals, if i can start the fire, i’ll hunt you like the wolves,” on “Like the Wolves”. Recent Thundercloses with “Home Without Me”, a track that finds Motes yet again pondering the nature of absence. “Is it a home without me,” he questions repeatedly moving emphasis from loss of moving on to hope for building anew. Recent Thunderby Big Best Friend will both challenge and comfort you if you give it the chance, so cut out the lights, relax, and give Recent Thunder 30-minutes of your day.