KEVIN MORBY – ” Singing Saw ” Best Albums of 2016

Posted: May 4, 2016 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s the stuff of legend.  Kevin Morby (Woods, The Babies) moves to a quaint little Los Angeles apartment in 2014 and finds an upright piano that was left behind by the previous tenants.  Equipped with the piano is an intro guide to basic piano chords.  As if blessed by the gods themselves, Morby began to construct the songs for his third full-length, Singing Saw, on this reverent upright and thus changed his sound and songwriting style in the process.

Fans of Woods’ With Life and With Love will immediately take to Morby’s use of syrupy Sly Stoned drum machines, but if Singing Saw‘s album trailer is any indication, this will be a much moodier affair than any Woods output.  Like the Leonard Cohen songs of old, there is a respect for space embedded in the layers, and the results have a wintery melancholic feel.

Dead Oceans has a bundle offer if you want the limited green wax.  You’ll get a CD (or a beer coaster in my house), an 11×17 poster that will indeed be folded, and a set of 5 postcards featuring photographs taken by Kevin Morby.  Perhaps it’s time to write your congressman and tell them that we, the collectors, aren’t into folded posters?  It’s time for a revolution.

CUT ME DOWN

I remember writing this song while in a conversation with my girlfriend. I was doing that thing where I stumbled upon the riff, and was just pacing back and fourth playing it over and over while my she was trying to talk to me.

Sometimes I write like this – while doing something else – so the song can sort of come freely and I don’t give it too much attention – I don’t kill it. Its like multi-tasking. I don’t know how or why – but the first few lines just fell out of my mouth.

The song structure is pretty basic, but I was playing my guitar in a weird tuning which made the chord progression seem fun and interesting – though if played in standard tuning its really pretty simple one. Thus is the magic of different tunings – making the old seem new, and letting me feel young again.

I HAVE BEEN TO THE MOUNTAIN

Every time I read the news – theres another horrific race-related police brutality headline.

And if it’s not that – then it’s something else – another act of senseless violence that I can’t wrap my head around. Especially handled by the way our media handles things – everything feels overwhelmingly Orwellian and creepy most of the time.

And from that – one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen is the video of Eric Garners death – knowing that the man who killed him was not brought any sense of justice when any and all evidence of murder is there for the whole world to see. This song came out of that.

SINGING SAW

I was taking a lot of walks around the time I was demoing and writing this album. This is the last one I wrote, a day before flying to New York to record.

I had just gotten home from a walk and decided I needed a song to represent the environment that was the backdrop to all of these songs. I just sort of put my hands on the guitar and started playing those two chords and very literally began describing the walk I had just taken: “up the hill, past the houses…” and then I started singing about a Singing Saw, and I wasn’t sure exactly why – but it became clear to me later.

DRUNK AND ON A STAR

Its about getting drunk and walking around by yourself at night. I know that sounds creepy – but don’t let it! Inspired by the Elliott Smith song ‘St. Ides Heaven’ – which carries a similar sentiment. There’s a freedom in being drunk – this we all know – but it can’t last, for like most everything else – being drunk is very fleeting.

There’s this point in getting drunk for me, that music begins to come very naturally. Lyrics start to make their way through me and i’m sort of free to just grab whatever I want. But this doesn’t last long – and usually at that point i’m a stones throw away from beginning to feel sick.

DOROTHY

Named after my guitar as a metaphor for all the people, places, and things I’ve come across in the past almost-decade via being a musician.

Sometimes it takes being away from it all, in your own solitude, to look back on everything and everyone you’ve encountered and suddenly your life looks exactly like some fairy tale. What a beautiful and enchanted life.

FERRIS WHEEL

The previous owner of my piano left many different songbooks behind with it, and one day I opened one up to a children’s song book and its first song was called ‘Ferris Wheel’, so I made a game with myself – to write a song with the same title but much different lyrics. This is what came out.

DESTROYER

This is the first song I wrote on the piano. I don’t know how when or where exactly, but I do remember thinking it was incredibly difficult at first, which is funny now – as its very very simple, basically just two chords the whole time.

But it will forever remain sacred to me – it being my first piano song and all. For a while I was playing around with calling the album ‘Destroyer’, but was afraid to as there is a band of the same name on my record label.

In the end, I’m glad I went with Singing Saw but the word Destroyer was a huge influence on the song writing process. I thought to myself, I want to take a word that holds a lot of weight, and bring it light – make it something beautiful.

BLACK FLOWERS

I am in my first long term relationship and living with a partner for the first time ever – so I’m running into complicated situations that I haven’t had in the past, and this song speaks to that.

There are many characters in our life in our little paradise that we live in, and I tried to include them all in here. At the time I wrote this song I was sure we wouldn’t be together very much longer, but hey – we’re still kickin’.

WATER

Similar to Dorothy, this is a song of reflection. I sort of just let lyrics come in, with no real narrative. The moral of this song is no-things and all-things. I believe I wrote the chorus first, and given the lyrics I wasn’t sure where to go with it – so I just let my mouth and brain run wild.

 

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