The phrase “a winning equation” is bandied about quite a bit in many different contexts, and fans of soulful pop music need look no further than the forthcoming release from James Patrick Morgan as a perfect example of that ideal. The effort is filled with catchy radio-ready songs like the jaunty “Expected” and the reflective “Right Mistakes,” and if there’s any question as to exactly how Morgan’s talent makes people happy, just refer to the five-song EP’s title: Art + Work = Love.
Art + Work = Love is set to drop on Feb. 17, and in the run-up to release date, Morgan was kind enough to chat with AXS to give us some insight into the making of the EP, and even craft another (potentially very useful!) equation for fans.
AXS: You’ve stated that your new EP Art + Work = Love represents you better than most of your past recordings. How so?
James Patrick Morgan: I’ve enjoyed and taken pride in past recordings, however, I don’t feel they’ve given a very accurate portrayal of what someone would hear/feel if they came to see me live. The style and the energy of who I am as an artist is represented much more in the tunes on Art + Work = Love.
AXS: David Huff, who has worked with stars like Taylor Swift, Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney produced Art + Work = Love. What is the most important thing you learned while in the studio with him?
JPM: Working with David has been an honor, and the thing I take away most is Huff’s ability to guide while he allows you space to figure yourself out. I’ve had people do great work in the studio coaching me towards a sound, but in the end, you lose part of the picture you wanted to create, and take on theirs. David gave me freedom to try, make mistakes, try again, and satisfy my own levels of OCD studio behavior. And I’m so thankful for that!
AXS: You recorded some of Art + Work = Love at East West Studios in Hollywood where the Beach Boys used to record. When you perform in such a place, do you ever sense the spirit of the personalities that preceded you?
JPM: Absolutely. I think you can feel the hallowed ground as you enter the building. So many hits, and so many moments of musical genius within those walls; it was certainly humbling. Most people get to see these timeless artists play live, and many more hear their recordings, which will last for ages to come. But few will ever have the opportunity to stand in the same spot where the hits were created---like a sculptor chiseling away at stone---with the same hopes and dreams for their own songs, and feel a kind of kindred spirit with such greatness. Incredible.
AXS: You have over 1,500 cover songs in your repertoire. Was it tough then to pick Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle” out of that huge lot to place on Art + Work = Love?
JPM: Well, that’s a pretty easy answer. My supporters/investors heard me play the tune once and loved it. I truly enjoy the song, and really dig how it turned out, but these days it would almost be impossible to pick a favorite cover, so I’m really glad they helped me hone in on that one!
AXS: You’re a native of Athens, Georgia. At what age did you realize that you were born in a music mecca?
JPM: I had always heard stories about Athens-born bands like REM or the B-52s, but it wasn’t until around the end of high school that I really explored the live bar scene. One of my very first regular cover shows was on E. Clayton Street, and it played a very influential role in developing my love for live performances.
AXS: You use a fun equation as the title of your new EP. Just for the heck of it, can you make up another equation, just for us?
JPM: “iTunes + 2/17/17 = JPM’s EP!” Or, an alternate answer: “Night of Drinking + Waffle House = No Hangover”
Follow James Patrick Morgan here.