Raleigh based The Morning After is a hidden gem in the North Carolina music scene and the independent music scene as a whole. The band’s newly released debut album, “Starless Nights” is proof of that. The band seamlessly mixed bluegrass, folk, blues and rock to make an album that’s a solid, enjoyable experience from start to finish.
“Starless “Nights” opens with the infectious ‘To Love a Machine.’ The chorus will have audiences singing right along with the band. It’s an interesting opener to the album not just for its infectious grooves, but also because it seems to be a two part song. It starts off with a great up-tempo feel, but then transitions to a more soulful feel to close. From there, the album segues into the emotional ‘Save Me.’ Band manager/member Hank Smith says of ‘Save Me’, that that song was the brainchild of the band’s lead singer, Rachel Koontz. He says that the song is about a person going through a bout of severe depression. What’s really interesting about this song is despite the heavy lyrical thoughts, the music isn’t overly dark or depressing. Rather, it’s more contemplative. Things begin to turn to a more positive sound from here on right up to the celebratory, ‘Warm Like the Sun.’ Koontz sings here about a woman who is very excited to have a love interest in her life. It’s almost a ska-esque type of song. That feel will get both male and female audiences jamming, even though it’s being sung from the vantage point of a female lead. That it could reach both men and women so easily is a testament to how enjoyable a song it is.
“Starless Nights” has lots more enjoyable songs, including the likes of the socially conscious ‘Headlines’ and the semi-celtic sound of ‘Winter.’ Smith says of ‘Winter’ that it was this song that led to the album’s title. He says that the song was about the band’s mandolin player, Shawn Chase, taking a trip to New York City in the wintertime. As great as all of these songs are, the album also includes a pair of great instrumentals in ‘De La Luz’ (which roughly translates to “Of the Light”) and ‘Falafel Haus.’ ‘De La Luz’ is a fitting song title for the song that it is. The story behind ‘Falafel Haus’ is pretty funny. Smith says of how the title came about is related to the band’s love for the Waffle House. This pair of songs does a great job profiling the band’s musicianship. That’s not to take away from the rest of the songs on this release. The band shows time and again how talented it is as a unit, including singer Rachel Koontz. Koontz could be compared to the likes of Susan Tedeschi and Billie Holiday in terms of her vocals.
Fans who want the opportunity to experience all of this talent in person will have plenty of chance for that. The band will hold an album release party this Saturday night at the Pour House in Raleigh. The show starts at 8:00p.m.. The band will also be in Wilmington the night before at the Soapbox Laundro Lounge. That show will be at 9:00p.m. Fans in Greenville will also get to see the band live next month. The band will perform at the Starlight Cafe April 19th at 9:00p.m. After that show, the band will take a little downtime before heading back out on the road in June. For more information on the band, fans can check it out online at http://www.reverbnation.com/morningaftermusic and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/morningaftermusic.