Two weeks ago this upcoming Friday, Adele released “Hello,” her first single from her upcoming album 25. The single was instantly hailed as a great song and a welcome return in most quarters (though this one precinct was not particularly impressed).
Yet a song almost as sad and just as good, has been toiling under the radar for just under a year. That song is “Say The Words” by Morgan James. Many of you may be saying who? You can read the full biography here, but for the purposes of this post I’ll give you a Cliffs Notes version. A native of the state of Idaho, James moved east to study at Julliard. After graduating, she spent the next few years in New York, looking for opportunities to shine. In 2008, she took her first role on Broadway in The Addams Family alongside Nathan Lane, which led to roles in Wonderland, Godspell and Berry Gordy’s Motown The Musical, where she played Teena Marie. That role led to her launching a solo career, the culmination of which resulted in the release of her debut album Hunter, just last year.
My first impressions of Ms. James were formed when I heard her sing a cover version of Prince’s “Call My Name”. I had no idea who I was listening to, but when I heard her sing, I was instantly intrigued. After hearing more from her, I purchased Hunter and the rest is history. If you like R&B with some pop elements as I do, but don’t necessarily like what you hear on the radio, give this album a listen. You will find something there that you like.
As for me, the song that does it for me is “Say The Words.” It is a marvelous song, well sung. James has a powerhouse voice, and on this track she builds from a whisper to a shout. If the song were better known, I could hear several contestants taking their shots with it on The Voice.
In fact, I thought so much of the song that I told my ex to listen to it and tell me what she thought. She texted me back with a crying emoji, and asked me if the lyrics matched how I felt when our marriage broke up. I had never really considered going that deep into the lyrics; I just appreciated the song for what it was, not for what it might or might not be saying about our now-dead relationship.
Why should you take my word for it? Listen for yourself. Ms. James is a singer to keep your eye (and ears) on, in my opinion. While Adele is rightfully celebrated, make some room for Morgan James. And tell me what you think of “Say The Words,” if you are so inclined.