Levittown-based singer/songwriter Justin Morrell plays music that is a throwback to the carefree, peace-loving sounds of the 1960s hippie era. With deep, breathy vocals and prodigious guitar playing, Morrell's sound is unmistakable.
His recently released Extended Play (EP), "Logic of Love", is chock full of acoustic-based Beatles-infused pop songs and bright, harmonic melodies. The album's first single, "Love Out Loud", starts with a catchy, multi-tracked drum beat and delves into a bridge featuring emotional lyrics about heartbreak. Morrell's trademark Taylor acoustic guitar sounds raw and soulful on the track, blending smoothly with the slick production of the rhythm section.
In a raspy baritone drawl, Morrell's voice rises a few octaves as he describes the song. "The phrase 'love out loud' is engraved on a silver necklace that was given to me by a close friend," he said. "It is a reminder to always be a positive and loving person. Those words mean so much to me because in this uncertain world, love is what keeps us alive."
Another standout track on the EP, "Where You Are", is a sing-along with an infectious chorus and alternative country hooks. "I believe in love at first sight on the subway lines today," sings Morrell, sounding every bit the part of a hopeless romantic in search of his soulmate.
"Madeline" is a soaring, anthemic power-ballad driven by a melodic piano-laden riff. His vocal prowess comes full-circle in the masterpiece and is driven by intimate lyrics.
Morrell cut his chops in the Long Island music scene during the early 2000s as the vocalist for Levittown-based emo rock quartet, Perfect Endings. The band performed locally at venues such as the Downtown in Farmingdale and various VFW halls throughout the New York area, gaining a small, but loyal fan base along the way.
In 2005, Morrell garnered national attention by joining the dynamic pop-rock outlet Permanent Me, which had just been signed to a major label contract with Island Records. He played bass for the band on two full-scale nationwide tours, opening for acts such as Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory and the Early November. A change in musical direction and the desire to pursue a solo career led to his departure from the band in 2007.
In 2009, Morrell began to perform acoustic concerts under the moniker Big City Lights, and flew to Thousand Oaks, California to record his debut album.