mor4James Patrick Morgan – Expected

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The great ones make things sound easy. Experienced listeners, musicians, and insiders understated that the effortless feeling casual listeners glean from recordings isn’t actually a bit of magic in an eye blink but, instead, the product of tremendous hard work and time spent in some sterile studio. Performers live for performing for their target audiences and the ability to approximate live energy in a recording is an astounding thing. James Patrick Morgan’s single “Expected” accomplishes that and much more. This is five star pop music with a sharp singer/songwriter sensibility that doesn’t seek to just entertain its audience but engage them on a personal level as well. From his introduction into the song until its last line, Morgan seems completely in command of the message he seeks to deliver and his performance oozes easy going confidence and charm.

It begins with a tremendous combination of horns and deep in the pocket groove drumming that promises much. You can hear the skeleton of how the song likely began in the acoustic guitar chugging away just beneath the surface and these elements, mixed together, give it an impressive dense sound that is still light on its feet. The bounce never fades and the arrangement uses a number of nicely dramatic crescendos, particularly the chorus, to further enhance the track’s dramatic potential. The bridge is quite well done – it’s very easy to feel how the song might have emerged from Morgan’s artistic vision full born when you hear how flawlessly the bridge dials up the overall intensity of the performance.

The lyrical content is another component that elevates this above being an empty Top 40 pop confection. Morgan, like he does as a music composer, doesn’t waste a single word depicting his experiences and the song should immediately connect with listeners thanks to this well-worded focus. There’s a very satisfying predictability to where he’s going with the track lyrically that isn’t lame at all – if you experience it listening to the song, it means Morgan is doing his job as an artist extraordinarily well and you can relate to the situation and thoughts he’s depicting. Those who haven’t experienced similar moments in their lives will still appreciate his artistry in doing so.

It’s his vocal, however, that makes all of it work so well in the end. Morgan never pushes too hard and delivers the lyric with a sort of offhanded shrug that still bristles and glows with the charisma of a born performer. There’s an appealing confidence too coming from the track that never gets too strident but, instead, serves as an added musical force driving the song to a thrilling conclusion. The song comes in at a little less than three minutes in length and it’s an ideal duration that never allows the listener to feel bored and avoids any sort of ruts that are a proven death knell for this sort of material. “Expected” is totally unexpected in its powerful quality and how easily it connects with listeners.


Dale Butcher