If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you may recall that I’ve written quite a bit about Morgan Christopher Geer, who performs both solo and with a band as Drunken Prayer. And for those of you, who have just stumbled on to this site, I’ll get into some necessary backstory: Geer is the son of a New Orleans folk singer and a California mushroom farmer, who grew up in Black Mountain, NC. Formerly a member of Asheville, NC-based act The Unholy Trio and several other bands, Geer wrote many Drunken Prayer songs while woodshedding on a farm in Sonoma County, California. Interestingly, as the story goes Geer once ran into Tom Waits while at a fish market in Sebastopol, CA, and he had a conversation about life and art with the legendary singer/songwriter that was so revelatory that it confirmed to Geer that he going on his own was the right thing — and perhaps, the only thing he should be doing with himself.
Geer’s 2012 release Into the Missionfield, was released to critically praise both locally and nationally with publications such as Portland‘s Willamette Week describing Geer as a “barking ringleader with chops between Tom Waits and The Butthole Surfers‘ Gibby Haynes” and the Portland Mercury describing Geer as “Warren Zevon’s medium, showing him the world from the great beyond.” Since then, Geer has released lyrically and sonically ambitious material that’s been critically praised for meshing blues, country, folk music, 60s psych, soul and New Orleans funeral dirges in a way that’s bitterly and ironically tragicomic: it’s often somewhere between a howl of existential pain, weeping from crippling heartache and laughing because — well, there ain’t nothing else anyone can do anyway. Or in other words, the material manages to be roguishly playful and witty, but at its core is a sweetly devastating sincerity and honesty — the sort of sincerity and honesty that is sadly admittedly rare these days.
Geer’s fourth full-length Drunken Prayer album, The Devil and the Blues was released couple of a months ago, and the album, which features Lance Willie (drums) and David Wayne Gay (bassist), former bandmates of Geer’s in The Unholy Trio and former members of The Reigning Sound, guest spots from Dallas Good (guitar) of The Sadies, Aaron Price (album engineer, organ and piano) and Anna Trivel (fiddle), and a small horn section of sax, clarinet and trumpet, the album is reportedly Geer’s party album. However, it’s a party album in Geer’s signature style as the album is comprised of narratives that cover themes of sadness, rebellion and redemption in a rowdy, riotous, loutish, proud and ridiculous fashion.
The album’s latest single “The Hand of God,” possesses an old-timey feel as the song is comprised of guitar, fiddle, piano accompanied by Geer’s off-kilter, boozy crooning. And although the song also manages to possesses the sort of bitter irony that would remind some of Randy Newman, at the core of the song is a humility and humanism that’s sadly all too rare, as the song suggests that the God the narrator sings of lovingly accepts all and does so equally — the wicked, the clown, the holy and the plain. Honestly, that’s the sort of God I’d be down for.
As Geer explains in press notes about the very simple, black and white concept for the video, “The video hopefully reinforces the humanistic nature of the song. Not to worry, we’re all accepted — the plain, the wrecked and the graceful. I think all of us are potentially all of those things, all the time.”