Album Review: Morning Bear – Take Flight

While most people dream of quitting their job and traveling the world few have the fortitude to actually go through with it. John Runnels, aka Morning Bear, quit his engineer job and bought a one way ticket to Spain and traipsed across Europe with just his backpack and guitar. Runnels returned home to Denver filled with inspiration and wrote Morning Bear’s first EP, Celeste, which dropped just a few months ago. The reception was so warm for the release that Runnels crafted three more beautiful tracks that comprise his newest EP, Take Flight.

“Growing Up” starts the EP out with simple guitar plucks and Runnels’s airy vocals, slowly building layers with each verse easing the listener into a lush soundscape that melts the world around you away. Runnels’s vocals soar high and become quite vulnerable as he sings “It’s true, and you know it too / You and I are through / And I can’t get it through my head.” “Growing Up” is a fantastic way to open the three track EP and an overall grand introduction to Morning Bear if you’ve never heard him before.

Like “Growing Up,” “Traveling” starts with simple guitars and Runnels’s vocals, though the sound is a bit more ominous. The strings that enter after the first verse lighten up the track but still leave a feeling of longing. “All this time that I’ve been traveling, it’s unraveling the truth / How have only just began to seize my youth?” Runnels laments on the opening line. The track is a beautiful exploration as Runnels talks about his struggles to find himself, once again displaying his heart for all to hear and suck you in emotionally. It’s easy to relate to the song as I’m sure most people have felt this way at one point or another. Runnels’s ability to pack the emotional punch into his vocals and music just makes the experience feel that much more personal.

The title track closes out the short but sweet EP. Acoustic guitars play a repeated line as the strings come in the back before Runnels’s vocals come in softly. The layers build quietly behind Runnels’s vocals before launching into a rousing, percussion and string heavy chorus filled with beautifully harmonized “oohs.” The quiet composition under the verses allow the listener to take in Runnels’s lyrics, allowing his quiet yet affecting vocals to take center stage while the chorus focuses completely on Runnels’s ability to layer interesting instrumentations. Just as “Growing Up” was the perfect EP opener, “Take Flight” closes the three song set off perfectly.

What Runnels accomplishes with these three songs is to prove that you can keep simple but still be affecting. His smooth and delicate vocals carry each track wonderfully and when he does belt a note out you can feel it deep down in your soul. Once again I’m left wanting more from this talented artist and I find myself unable to resist hitting repeat on these three dazzling tracks.

If you’re in the Denver area on September 25th, make sure to hit the Take Flight EP release.