“If you don’t want to put anything good out there, then don’t do it,” urges Ronny Morris. And as if for good measure, he adds: “And that’s my opinion about everything.” Get it? Got it.
This may explain why Ronny’s taken time over his first album - as in, four years’ worth of time. But it’s been well worth the wait.
“Don’t build a house if you don’t want to build a great house,” he reflects. “Don’t make wine if you don’t want to create a fantastic, delicious wine… Wow,” he adds, “what a world this would be if people created stuff that way.”
Such a process is never going to be easy. But since hitting a low in his life (“it all seemed to go wrong at the same time,” he recalls without self-pity), Ronny made a choice: to travel light and sharpen his focus. So he sold a heap of recording equipment and instruments he’d accumulated, and kept only a guitar, a Wurlitzer, a pencil and notebook and a coffee mug…
One stripped back demo later – recorded in his bedroom, as all the best demos are – he was licensing his songs to major US television series One Tree Hill, Brothers and Sisters, and The Ghost Whisperer.
“It was amazing. I sent out 500 copies and suddenly people were calling me.” Result. Ronny Morris: as heard on TV, and soon to be seen.
To his delight and surprise, last year he picked up a Hollywood Music Award, for best original song, in the shape of ‘Every Time It Gets Real’ (played on The Ghost Whisperer). It was a track that had not even been released…
Until now, that is. For once he was on track, he knew he simply had to record the album that was emerging from within, even if going for broke meant, er, going broke in the process.
Ronny now reflects on the whole journey with a mixture of bewilderment and wonderment. “Sometimes I had no idea where I was going, but it always, somehow, felt like the right direction - from Stockholm to Prague to New York to Toronto…
“Man,” he sighs, “I even had to see a hypnotist as I was terrified of flying.”
At times, he had to pinch himself. “I remember sitting in the producer’s studio outside Stockholm, snow falling magically outside, thinking, ‘How did I get here?’”
And at others, he had to kick himself up the backside. “I knew the album required more before it would fully reveal itself to me,” he recalls. This meant stepping out of his comfort zone, searching out, and sweet-talking, some of the best in the business to help - “praying that they would answer my call and that I could find the money to finish the work I had started.”
He, they, something, somehow, made it happen. Call it fate. Or sheer bloody-mindedness. I don’t know? Maybe even both.
But now, to Ronny’s uncompromising ear, Sweet Silence the album is finished. And he’s made the kind of record he believes people can stop to savour. People like his step-dad, who taught him the art of listening, back in the day. Lessons burned into the musical psyche of a little boy.
Listen up. “When I was little,” he remembers, “the prize possession in our home was my step-dad's state-of-the-art stereo and his vinyl collection. He would sit there, legs crossed, his cigarette in the ashtray, sipping coffee, and he would listen to the new album he had brought home that day.”
Today, in our down-load, fast-forward and shuffle-off culture, we’re in danger of missing the point, he believes: that a note emerges from the silence, and returns there, having entered our head and heart in the process, and touched us, moved us, nudged us towards some place better.
Towards Sweet Silence.
“Everything sounds better from within it, after all,” he says. Like the Czech National Orchestra, who have scored their sound deep into the grooves of his original songs. Like the production values brought on by Adam Kviman and Steve Thompson, who know a good tune when they hear one.
Hush now. A man in a suit lowers himself to the side-walk and puts his ear to the ground. Listening, for something. For anything. For everything.
Sweet Silence offers mystery at its heart. There are no easy answers here; but everywhere, hints of awakening, musical and spiritual clarity, minor and major epiphany, inspiration: to listen for the sound of an unfolding story, and the unforced rhythms of life.