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Gurf Morlix -- Toad of Titicaca (Catamount).   Since his well-publicized split with Lucinda Williams, Gurf Morlix has been keeping busy.  This is, surprisingly enough, his first solo record.  It comes as no surprise that it's on the label owned by the ever-prescient Eric Babcock, whose talents have been instrumental in the success of both Bloodshot and Checkered Past Records.   One listen to this record, and it's easy to understand why Morlix is such a sought-after producer and player in the evolving world of "alternative country."  It's varied stylistically from acoustic country to a more bluesy country-rock sound, and half the tracks have the Hammond B-3 organ of ex-Small Faces member Ian McLagan simmering in the background.   Although Morlix doesn't have a dazzling voice, it's at least comfortable and emotionally honest, and his chops on the wide range of instruments in his arsenal are staggering.  In addition to guitar and banjo, Gurf is credited with jug, sign, Weissenborn, and mandocello.  Morlix is also a fine songwriter.  The opening salvo, "Wild Things", is a bit of a declaration from a man whose time has come: "Drinkin' up life, it's the way it should be...standin' in line is not my style...I hear the wild things calling my name."   The voice you'll hear in the background is Buddy Miller, a fairly capable guitar player and songwriter in his own right.  "Robin Sings at Midnight" is a shambling acoustic-country rumination on some nearly-forgotten relationship that apparently ended by default: "I wasn't thinking it was over, but it's been a long, long time."   The loneliness and desperation are palpable in "Rainin' On Me": "It's rainin' on me, nothing is right / nobody in the world feels like I do tonight / 'cause I lost my lover, how wrong could I be? / I'm headed for nowhere and it's rainin' on me."  Finally, don't miss the roll-call fun of "Dan Blocker" -- its lyrics simply call off the names of Bonanza cast members (with Bonanza-style guitar licks) and then the character names.   It's silly fun -- the lighter side of Gurf Morlix.  Continuing in this vein is "Greatest Show on Earth" -- check out what the "fat lady" does to Gurf, complete with animal noises!  It may have taken a long time for Gurf to step into the solo spotlight, but what a rich payoff.  Long Live Catamount!  -TRS

Track listing:

1. Wild Things (2:58)
2. You Don't Know Me (4:15)
3. Robin Sings at Midnight (3:15)
4. Rainin' On Me (5:08)
5. Rock Bottom (3:13)
6. Feel Free (3:45)
7. Leap of Faith (3:37)
8. I Blunder On (3:54)
9. Dan Blocker (2:29)
10. Greatest Show on Earth (4:23)
11. Fallin' Off the Face of the World (3:22)

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