Kevin Morby is releasing a new twelve-track record entitled City Music. This is his fourth album that adds to an already classic collection of indie and folk style songs, but seemingly veers off on a different path than his previous releases. His monotone vocals and simplistic music style make for a quality and deep listening experience.
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The key to being successful in music can be split pretty evenly between 80% hard work/self promotion and 20% actual talent. Therefore moderately talented troubadours like Kevin Morby can do well for themselves just because they are so damn busy. The former Woods and the Babies member has now released several albums that are ok to good but lack that special something that elevates it beyond everyone else who can play guitar and sing.
He’s developed from the rustic folk of his early albums to a more skewed approach that recalls the likes of Parquet Courts on ‘Cry Baby’ with nods to Jonathan Richman and solo Robert Forster along the way. We’ve had a lot of Lou Reed albums to get through in our lifetimes which means that songs such as ‘Aboard My Train’ are almost redundant to my ears - as decent as they are, they don’t add a think to the development of rock and roll in any way shape or form.
Morby is obviously having fun with his songwriting, he writes songs that veer on annoying on ‘1-2-3-4’ and ‘Dry Your Eyes’ using that Lou Reed trick of irritating the listener before the song gets started so you are already kind of on the back foot. More suited to my tastes are the Real Estate-ish guitar tangles of the instrumental title track and slower mood pieces such as ‘Night Time’ in which Morby drops the arch facade for a moment to locate some real emotion.
‘City Music’ is an album that relies on a slow burning mood and atmosphere rather than originality. I’m not sure how much I believe him sometimes but Kevin Morby is ok. He really is ok.
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