Suffice it to say T. Hardy Morris arrives at this juncture in his career bearing some impressive credentials. A member of the band Dead Confederate and the indie supergroup of sorts Diamond Rugs, he follows in the footsteps of the Athens elite, bands like REM in particular, that helped define the divide between rock and a foraging of spiritual intrigue meant to intrigue the college crowd in particular. The namesake of English author Thomas Hardy, he intends this, Dude, the Obscure, his third solo outing to date, as a play off the master’s literary masterpiece, “Jude, The Obscure” while attempting to explore a philosophy that tackles the paradox of life itself and the search for meaning in a tangled and turbulent world. Invoking psychedelic suggestion, the ornately intriguing and surreally centered “Cheating Life, Living Death” finds him declaring, “Every dream is an invitation/To leave your love up on the shelf/When you walk out every evening/ Cheating life and living death.”
A course in Philosophy 101 may be a prerequisite prior to any initial introduction.
Best then to simply sit back and listen and not get too caught up in any carefully considered musings or august intent. With songs such as “Be,” “Homemade Bliss” and “Lit By Midnight” sounding like titles extracted from some Hindu holy scripture, the shifting textures, intimacy and intrigue suggest a meditative state where reality blurs and new perception flows freely. The songs are intimate yet inspired, all hushed contemplation on a sweeping scale. It can be captivating on several levels, but still difficult to fully appreciate on anyone in particular.
That’s not to say the album avoids accessibility. To the contrary, songs such as “When the Record Skips” and the aforementioned “Homemade Bliss” skip along with a lighthearted lilt that invites the listener to drift along, quietly content. A heady exercise that attempts to create a cerebral set-up within the bounds of today’s troubled existence, Dude, The Obscure is an album of existential intrigue.