New York based soul singer’s Kendra Morris’ astonishing debut album Banshee (Wax Poetic Records) may have dropped over a year ago, but currently it feels like one of 2013’s most exciting and talked about releases. That conversation has much to do with the new Showtime series Ray Donovan, which airs its finale in the US this Sunday and is currently playing on Sky Atlantic in the UK. Look up Morris on YouTube, and the comment threads of all her videos are littered with people thrilled to have discovered her through the series.
The show created by Ann Biderman (Southland) is a sun-bleached blend of the family violence of The Sorpranos and the rich and famous lifestyles of Californication. Liev Schreiber stars as the eponymous Boston scrapper, turned sharp-suited Hollywood fixer, taking out the trash for elite A-listers and covering up Tinseltown’s seediest secrets. Nowhere near as good at fixing his own life, when Ray’s father Mickey (Jon Voight) gets out of prison five years early, arriving in LA and vowing vengence on his son for framing him, Ray’s family are put in danger and allegiances with his brothers (including Eddie Marsden) are torn.
Here’s the song that everyone’s talking about from the end of episode 10:
Kendra is a self-confessed horror buff, and during our interview, she enthused about her unapologetic love for Troll, as well as the influence of Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls on her album. Apart from a teenage crush on Leonardo DiCaprio, in her formative years, the singer gravitated mostly towards the more risqué films of Larry Clark, Greg Araki and Todd Solondz — though she also fessed up to the guilty pleasure she gets watching films about “making it”, in particular, Britney Spears in Crossroads.
And how’s this for a movie memory? You’re sitting in the cinema with your Dad on Christmas Day ready to watch Django Unchained when the trailer for Dead Man Down comes on, and thats your voice singing a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond ” Best. Christmas. Ever.
If you want the more cinematic sound of Soul, you can’t go wrong with Banshee. An album drenched in seventies funk and the bluesy street life of yesteryear, most of these songs would fit in just fine on the soundtracks to Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. It’s a sound and a voice tailor made for the movies, and you can certainly expect to hear more of this songstress on the rise at a cinema near you, very soon indeed.
First published by Vérité Film Magazine on September 22, 2013