I Challenge the Beast is a collection of 9 songs that could only have come from Gurf Morlix. He has been called ‘the Edgar Allen Poe of Americana music’ (Alan Cackett) and though you won’t find any ghosts in these musical stories, there is plenty of the dark, brooding poetry that characterizes both writers. And yet—-we still listen. Because the lyrics are not only captivating but relevant, the voice is mesmerizing, the instrumentation both innovative and provocative. His inspiration may be found in the lyrics “It’s passion and hunger that feeds my soul” (Beautiful Crazy World) and “I’m colder than steel, but my heart is true,” (The Beast.)
Morlix has a way of writing songs that are both personal and universal. The opening track, Heart,explores varied manifestations of the heart, from the one broken by a lover to a “heart on the spit over the coals” to the heart in the ICU. The title track, The Beast, speaks of a battle, perhaps with addiction, but this song also telescopes out to encompass any inner struggle a person might face. Perhaps the most beautiful track is Beautiful Crazy World, a bittersweet ballad that feels like a lullaby- “Livin’ till you die, is all part of this beautiful crazy world…” Coil of Barbed Wire is the comic relief of the album with the refrain “Love is as delicate as a coil of barbed wire.” We get a history lesson in the true story of Miss Nellie’s Place, which starts out as an upbeat dance tune, but ends in tragedy. World on Fire expresses what so many feel today, as literal flames of wildfire, war, and climate change, and intangible ones of socio-political conflict threaten “everything that matters….”
Throughout the album are beautiful vocal harmonies, and they are all Gurf. Indeed, the album is all Gurf. No need for credits, as he performed every instrument and vocal. He also engineered, mixed and mastered every song at his own Rootball Studio in Austin.