Terrell Morris Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, July 21

Terrell Morris Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, July 21
Photo: Jennifer Hyc
A short 20-minute set is barely enough to effectively assess an artist's abilities — but Terrell Morris's brief set revealed he is ready to go.
On an evening that previously featured emerging and promising acts like R&B vocalist Adria Kane, folk-soul singer-instrumentalist Nefe and rapper-singer-musician James Wesson — part of the annual Speak Your Peace music festival — Morris is part of the conversation when it comes to artists to watch this year and next.
His recently released Molasses EP reveals Morris as a singer-songwriter and vocalist with a warm and chill sound of neo-soul and hip-hop — by way of production from duo Free n Losh — that feels sonically controlled and free-flowing all at once. Hitting us with latest track "Field Test (Wayside)," is the perfect primer for what Morris is all about. Smooth, smoky, tipsy bass grooves layered with a relaxed sing-rap flow is the mode for Morris's musical method. The raspy "Me 4 Prez" rides hard on gruff vocals — R&B with rap sensibilities — with a finely honed yet sparse organ-fuelled flow.
Given the short time he had, Morris was nonetheless able to exude a professional yet casual presence and effectively work the stage. There are some emerging artists who just "get it" in terms of moving the crowd while getting in a zone, and Morris is already residing in that space.
Capping things off with the jazzy-hop slow-burn of "Pretty Life" — "Put your passion on my every night" — was the ideal closer for a set that ultimately showcased his smooth, mature stage presence, Zen-oriented sensibilities and a definite sense that future material and appearances from Morris is on the way. By repping that amorphous "Toronto sound," Morris has been able to reflect the city's diversity in fluid musical thought and approach when it comes to hip-hop-grounded R&B.

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