Award-winning “Native Americana” fingerstyle guitarist and songwriter Cary Morin has always explored genre-crossing musicianship but his upcoming release Innocent Allies takes on new territory. It is inspired by the visual arts of the West and a key location from Morin’s life.
This album is a collection of songs inspired by the famous Western painter Charlie Russell and my life in Great Falls, Montana, where Charlie lived and worked. My father was an Assiniboine tribal member from Wolf Point, Montana, and my mother from The Crow Tribe in Lodge Grass, Montana. Surrounded by music and art as a child, I was also surrounded by my father’s and grandfather, Robert Yellowtail’s, favorite artist and local hero, Charles Marion Russell. His work was everywhere; in our house, in businesses, on the walls of our families’ homes, and at the state capital. As a Montanan, knowing his work was the same as knowing the Montana mountains, rivers, and the big Montana sky.
With Innocent Allies, due for release on January 26, 2024, Morin observes details in Charles M. Russell’s painting from his perspective as a Native Crow and sets them to song.
Situations depicted in his paintings that might not be obvious to some are subtle cultural or ritualistic details. As an Indigenous artist, I bring a perspective to this aspect of Charlie’s work by way of this body of songs.
Morin also notes that Charles M. Russell was a friend to the Plains Tribes, concerned with the destruction of Native culture and portraying Native Americans in his paintings with a dignity that was largely absent from other artists’ portrayals of the time.
Morin has shared the first single from Innocent Allies, “Big Sky Sun Goes Down,” the first song that Morin wrote from the album, inspired by natural surroundings.
When I finally decided to sit down and write words, I was seated on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River at Rancho Del Rio outside of Bond, Colorado. Reviewing the paintings and hearing the water rushing by, I wrote this first song.
Morin cites Russell’s When The Land Belonged To God, Salute To The Robe Trade, Piegans, In The Enemies Country, and Buffalo Hunt as the paintings that directly influenced “Big Sky Sun Goes Down.”
The video for “Big Sky Sun Goes Down” was produced by Randy Perkins & Film Locale.