Only Bobby “Blue” Bland shares the distinctive guttural throat crack you hear in New England folk artist/novelist Bill Morrissey’s voice. It’s plaintive and wise; it feels roasted warm, like peat from hollowed-out logs in the milltowns’ lives he writes so eloquently of. Morrissey is often compared to writer Raymond Carver by way of his finely chiseled vignettes. Most are bittersweet, many are about alcoholics, wryly aware of the twist of fate, with only dry wit and another short shot to either stave off or fan the tiny bit of eternal hope that flickers. With this disc, Morrissey ranks right at the top of the folk world for two reasons: His subtle instrumental underpinnings (fretless bass and violin, clarinet and piano behind his own fine Mississippi John Hurt-like guitar playing) nails the insight-filled counterpoint in which, Dylanesque, he hits big picture poetics told via brilliant detail. And any songwriter who loves beer, blues and baseball is sterling in my book.