Here’s a fresh new voice, singer-songwriter Logan Magness making his first full-length recording, Memphis on My Mind. Magness recorded the album in San Francisco, where he lived for several years, before returning to his hometown of Memphis. Prior to this recording, he can claim only the EP Magnolia Demos
One of the first impressions you’ll have when listening is the number of tracks that feature female duets and harmonies, much like Michael Rank & Stag’s brooding Horsehairs where Mount Moriah’s Heather McEntire sings. Here it’s bassist Amanda Salguero. Magness has some dark songs too but mixes in some upbeat ones as well. He takes an introspective reflection of his five years spent living in San Francisco, where he first became serious about songwriting. The album speaks to falling in and out of love with the people and city around him, beginning with a self-critical perspective that takes a broader, more mature view as the album unfolds.
The album was recorded at Prairie Sun Studios (Tom Waits, The Mountain Goats) in Cotati, CA using essential a trio of in-demand Bay Area musicians to back his vocals, acoustic guitar, and harmonica. Tommy P. plays electric guitar and keyboards, Cole Bailey is on drums, and Scott Foreman and Josh Yenne add organ and steel guitar respectively on select tracks. The album was recorded live in five days as basically a stripped-down effort in an attempt to capture a blend of soft, brooding folk and/or garage rock, depending on the track.
Magness is a self-taught singer and guitarist with a high tenor voice who wrote these tunes in his studio apartment. “it just happened, like I was struck by something and became obsessed with songs,” he says. “I couldn’t stop writing and I fell in love with the craft, how personal it could be I haven’t listened to music the same since. It’s a blessing and a curse.”
There are four tracks that especially stand out. The opener, jangly “Don’t Leave Me Alone” has a catchy chorus hook. “Thin Red Line” is replete with vivid imagery, as a couple takes a drive. Magness’ and Salguero’s voices blend together gorgeously here. “Lorna” reverberates with a different sort of instrumentation than most of the other tunes, colored by the combination of organ, acoustic piano, electric and steel guitars. The title track and closer, serves as a perfect summation as Magness reveals his self-realization that he misses home and has gotten all he needed from living in the Bay Area – “There’s only one place you call your home/It’ll cut you open when you’re alone/And there’s nothing but the passing of time/And Memphis on my mind.”
Next time out, with easy access to some of the world’s best musicians and recording studios in Memphis, it will be interesting to hear what he puts down. Until then, this is an auspicious beginning.