Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Morby’

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the state of Kansas, where we live, has become a really important haven for bordering states in the fight for access to reproductive healthcare. There’s an amendment to the state constitution in the upcoming election that would put abortion rights at risk. We’re asking Kansas folks to vote no on this amendment in the August 2nd election and we’re supporting Vote No Kansas, an amazing local organization raising awareness about this issue.

We record covers on a 4-track at home from time to time, so we’re releasing 2 of those today on Bandcamp. It’s a sliding scale starting at $5 and the amount of funds raised will be donated to Vote No Kansas.

released July 21st, 2022

The story begins with Kevin Morby absentmindedly flipping through a box of old family photos in the basement of his childhood home in Kansas City. Just hours before, at a family dinner, his father had collapsed in front of him and had to be rushed to the hospital. That night Morby still felt the shock and fear lodged in his bones. So he gazed at the images until one of the pictures jumped out at him: his father as a young man, proud and strong and filled with confidence, posing on a lawn with his shirt off. This was in January of 2020. As the months went on and the world dramatically changed around him, Morby felt an eerie similarity between his feelings of that night and the atmosphere of those spring days. Fear, anxiety, hope and resilience all churning together. The themes began twisting in his mind. History, trauma and the grand fight against time. Having the courage to dream, even while knowing the tragedy that often awaits those who dare to dream.

While his father regained his strength, Morby meditated on these ideas. And then, he headed to Memphis. He moved into the Peabody Hotel and spent his days paying tribute and genuflecting to the dreamers he admired. In the evening, he would return to his room and document his ideas on a makeshift recording set-up, with just his guitar and a microphone. The songs, elegiac in nature, befitting all he had seen, poured out of him.

Produced by Sam Cohen (who also worked on Morby’sSinging Saw” and “Oh My God“), “This Is A Photograph” features musical contributions from long time staples of Morby’s live band, as well as old friends and new collaborators alike. If “Oh My God” saw Morby getting celestial and in constant motion and Sundowner was a study in localized intent, “This Is A Photograph” finds Morby making an Americana paean, a visceral life and death, blood on the canvas outpouring. As Morby reminds us early on, time is undefeated. So what do we do while we’re still here? “This is a Photograph” of that sense of yearning.

This Is A Photograph” out May 13th via Dead Oceans.

Listen: Kevin Morby Shares New Single “US Mail”

Kevin Morby has released a new standalone single, “US Mail.” It was originally debuted during his Sundowner livestream last week; however, the new track is not a part of the album.

“‘US Mail’ is a song I wrote about a mother communicating with her daughter via the USPS from within an inpatient rehab facility,” Morby wrote in a statement (via press release). “Restricted from any forms of electronic communication, the two must rely on postcards carried by the United States Postal Service to reach one another.”

Morby also called on his fans to write him letters, as his PO Box address is featured on the single’s artwork (pictured below): “Please feel free to write me a letter and continue sending mail to your loved ones to support the USPS. It’s service has been integral to my career and I have been passionate about both sending and receiving physical mail since I was a child. It is simply one of my favourite things. I will do my best to write you back, but even if I don’t, please know that your letters mean the world to me and that I read and cherish them all.”

Kevin Morby has shared a further video for “Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun,” a track from his latest album, Sundowner, out now on Dead Oceans. Following the videos for “Wander” and “Campfire,” this is the final installment in a trilogy of videos made for the album.

At the time of writing the album, it felt like Katie [Crutchfield] and I were the only two people on earth—living out in suburban Kansas away from the chaos of our lives on the road and on the coasts and our days became very childlike and innocent: riding bikes, making up games and singing songs. When we found ourselves back in a similar environment due to the lockdown, and it came time to make videos, I wanted to depict our lives in solitude from when I wrote the album.

“Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun, the song by Kevin Morby, out now on Dead Oceans.

This week, Kevin Morby has shared the title track from his forthcoming album “Sundowner”, due out on October. 16th via Dead Oceans Records. “When I first moved back home to Kansas after having lived on both coasts for over a decade, I found myself – for the first time – dreading the sun going down,” Morby said. “This was a foreign feeling for me. In both Los Angeles and New York, I resisted the day light and thrived in the night – something I have sung about many times, most notably on my album “City Music”. But suddenly there I was, isolated in the Midwest in late autumn – the days growing increasingly shorter – chasing the sun as best I could.”

After five solo albums, Kansas City singer/songwriter Kevin Morby hasn’t missed a beat, and his sixth entry Sundowner continues that hot streak. Sundowner is perhaps less ambitious than his 2019 double album and spiritual escapade Oh My God, but any time Morby invites you on a lowly, dusty folk rock journey, you better get moving because it’s always worth it. If you’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Morby’s vocal, melodic and guitar quirks, you’ll find many of those here, along with his breath-taking intimacy and thoughtful pastoral tales.

No question about it, this is Kevin Morby’s best album to date. Formless, playful slacker rock as absurd as the year. Songs, like sunsets, are fleeting, and it’s only due to a willingness and desire to catch them that you ever, if even only for a moment, grab a hold of one. When writing “Sundowner”, Kevin Morby was lucky to have had the Tascam 424 there to help capture both. Sundowner is his attempt to put the Middle American twilight – it’s beauty profound, though not always immediate – into sound. It is a depiction of isolation. Of the past. Of an uncertain future. Of provisions. Of an omen. Of a dead deer. Of an icon. Of a Los Angeles themed hotel in rural Kansas. Of billowing campfires, a mermaid and a highway lined in rabbit fur. It is a depiction of the nervous feeling that comes with the sky’s proud announcement that another day will be soon coming to a close as the pink light recedes and the street lamps and house lights suddenly click on.

As the songs kept coming I cleared out the crowded shed that was sitting dormant in my backyard and built a makeshift studio before adding drums, lead guitar and piano to complete the demos. Each day I would teach myself basic recording techniques, watching the channels illuminate and pulse as if the machine were breathing, and then emerge in the evenings as the sun was getting low: – around 5:30 in the winter, when the Kansan sunsets look icy and distant, like a pink ember inside of a display case, and 9 o’clock in the summer, when the sunsets are warm and abstract.

“Sundowner” the new song by Kevin Morby off ‘Sundowner’, out October 16th on Dead Oceans Records.

Sundowner

After five solo albums, Kansas City singer/songwriter Kevin Morby hasn’t missed a beat, and his sixth entry “Sundowner” continues that hot streak. Sundowner is perhaps less ambitious than his 2019 double album and spiritual escapade Oh My God, but any time Morby invites you on a lowly, dusty folk rock journey, you better get moving because it’s always worth it. If you’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Morby’s vocal, melodic and guitar quirks, you’ll find many of those here, along with his breath-taking intimacy and thoughtful pastoral tales.

Following 2019’s Oh My God, “a secular rock record consumed by religious imagery, a pop art exploration of deep anxiety, and his most interesting work yet” (The FADER), Sundowner is Morby’s “attempt to put the Middle American twilight — its beauty profound, though not always immediate — into sound.” This is represented in “Campfire,” a track that’s textured with distinct, twangy guitar licks and Morby’s compelling voice. The video, shot at Castle Rock in Kansas and directed by Johnny Eastlund & Dylan Isbell, features Morby and his partner, Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee). It’s deeply hued with beautiful, dusky skies and a cinematic quality.

The collection of new songs that would become Sundowner came together effortlessly as he did his best not to resist or refine the songs, but instead let them take shape all on their own. In his makeshift studio, Morby taught himself basic recording techniques. Because it had no heating or cooling elements, he was subjected to the elements – the warm and abstract summer and the icy Kansan winter. He worked largely on a four track Tascam model 424. “I wrote the entire album wearing headphones, hunched over the 424, letting my voice and guitar pass through the machine, getting lost in the warmth of the tape as if another version of myself was living on the inside, singing back at me,” says Morby. “I was mesmerized by the magic of the four track not only as a recording device, but also an instrument, and considered it my song writing partner throughout the whole process.”

Kevin Morby released two more songs from his forthcoming album Sundowner, due out October. 16th, this week. “Wander” is a strong blend of indie and country that would make for a perfect road-trip soundtrack. On the flip side, “Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun” is a lengthier, slightly more sombre track, but the calmer acoustic instrumentals make it just as enjoyable. ”’Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun’ is my favourite song off of the new album, and the one I’m most proud of,” Morby said. “I consider space to be a prominent instrument on the song – and here it is as important as anything else you hear on the track.

“Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun” the new song by Kevin Morby off ‘Sundowner’, out October 16th on Dead Oceans Records.

Kevin Morby Sundowner

Kevin Morby has announced his new album “Sundowner” with a video for a new song called “Campfire.” The album is due out October 16th via Dead Oceans Records. Check out the video for “Campfire,” which features Morby’s partner Katie Crutchfield (aka Waxahatchee), below.

Morby began working on Sundowner at home, using mostly a four-track Tascam 424 recorder. He then headed to Texas’ Sonic Ranch to record the album with producer Brad Cook. “I wrote the entire album wearing headphones, hunched over the 424, letting my voice and guitar pass through the machine, getting lost in the warmth of the tape as if another version of myself was living on the inside, singing back at me,” Morby said in a statement. “I was mesmerized by the magic of the four track not only as a recording device, but also an instrument, and considered it my song writing partner throughout the whole process.”

“In the winter of 2017 I moved back to my hometown of Kansas City from Los Angeles. The move was sudden and unforeseen, just as I was tying a bow on the writing process for what would become my 2019 album, Oh My God. I bought a Four Track Tascam model 424 off of an old friend to help me get to the finish line, but much to my surprise and excitement, this new piece of equipment in my all-but-bare home didn’t help complete one album but rather inspire another: Sundowner. The new collection of songs came quickly and effortlessly as I did my best not to resist or refine the songs, but instead let them take shape all on their own.”

Along with the album, Kevin Morby has announced a “virtual tour” on the Noon Chorus platform. Starting on September 10th, Morby will perform one album from his discography every Thursday, working in chronological order until he gets to an October 15th performance of Sundowner. Morby was set to tour the United States this spring in support of his 2019 LP Oh My God before the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down the touring industry.

“Campfire” by Kevin Morby off ‘Sundowner’, out October 16 on Dead Oceans Records.

Vvtnxnhg

This is a Record Store Day 2020 item. It will be available to purchase from 8am 20th June.

From Kevin…Paris was the first city to really get behind my career as a solo artist. From the first time I played there in 2014 til now, it’s always had an extra spark of magic to it. It’s always the stop I look forward to the most on my European tours as the audience comes with a very unique and kinetic energy, and because of this, so does the band. I had wanted to document this reciprocating fever between us and the crowd for some time now and saw our sold out show at the beautiful Cabaret Sauvage as the perfect time to do so. I also knew I needed to document a night with my new band, the Oh My God Band, which is made up of some of the most talented and tasteful musicians on the planet. And so here and now, in this recording, I have captured the best band I’ve ever played with as well as one of the best crowds I’ve ever played for – all together on a very sweaty night beneath a carnival tent in Paris. xo km

With his four acclaimed solo albums and myriad records of various collaboration, Kevin Morby has become a true musical auteur. Each record possesses its own unique persona and explores intriguing themes and fertile terrain through shifting, focused textures and dexterous, dedicated skill. And now, with the lavish, resplendent, career-best double LP Oh My God , Morby delivers a grandiose director’s cut of his biggest statement to date, epic in scope as well as sound

recordstore day

Oh My God

Kevin Morby has been thinking about God. If you’re a fan of the Kansas City-raised songwriter, you’re probably already aware of this. On his first four solo LPs, Morby has riddled his lyrics with allusions and questions, never quite discovering what sort of universal presence he’s engaging with. On his latest album, “Oh My God”, Morby presents the logical conclusion of this investigation. Not only it is his deepest dive into a metaphysical pulse, but it’s also his most stunning and brilliant record. With Oh My God , Morby swings for the fences with abandon and excitement.

The album begins with the title track, and after a brief word of encouragement from co-producer Sam Cohen, Morby begins. We get ragtime piano, heavy chords, and church choir backing vocals. Immediately, this is something new. Morby’s always been a fantastic songwriter, but this is something big, something different. When we ask the guitarist about these heightened goals, his answer is simple: “We wanted this one to feature music that could fit inside of a cathedral.”Even though Morby isn’t religious, he’s fascinated by the way it shapes our lives.

As a young Midwesterner, he witnessed it all around him. Whether he’s a believer or not is far from the point. This is the world he’s grown up with and it constantly invades his vernacular. Whether intentionally or not, Morby conflates politics with religion and, as such, this record is interested in the world we live in. But, Oh My God is more ambitious than its era.

It’s an album for all-time, not just 2019. When Morby turns this world inward, Oh My God is at its best. Kevin Morby is a growing spirit, a disciple for the Godless. And yet, there’s something here for everyone. Morby is confident without becoming preachy, questioning without being faithless. It’s a tightrope and Morby’s learned how to cross it blindfolded. I wonder what his next trick will be.

This is Kevin Morby’s defining album to date, that sounds as celestially enlightened as the themes it tackles, balancing sonic depth with a masterful lightness of touch and a painterly vision of the complete picture. “this one feels full circle, my most realised record yet,” he says. “it’s a cohesive piece; all the songs fit under the umbrella of this weird religious theme.” this is Kevin’s opus – a double concept album on spirituality and religion, for fans of Steve Gunn, Conor Oberst, Waxahatchee, Woods, and Kurt Vile .

Kevin Morby “Nothing Sacred / All Things Wild” from “Oh My God” out April 26th on Dead Oceans Records.

Throughout his four solo albums and myriad records of various collaboration, Kevin Morby has recognized in his work the ubiquity of an apparent religious theme. Though not identifying as “religious” in the slightest, Morby—the globetrotting son of Kansas City who has made music while living on both coasts before recently returning to his Midwestern stomping grounds—recognizes in himself a somewhat spiritual being with a secular attitude towards the soulful. And so, in an effort to tackle that notion head-on and once-and-for-all, he sat down in his form of church—on planes and in beds—and wrote what would become his first true concept-album: the lavish, resplendent, career-best double LP Oh My God.

“Religion is around all of us,” Morby says. “It’s a universal language and there is profound beauty in it. I’ve found it a useful tool within songwriting, as it’s something everyone can relate to on some level. There are religious themes or imagery in a lot of what I’ve done, so I wanted to get all of that out and speak only that language for a whole record. It’s not a born-again thing; it’s more that ‘oh my god’ is such a profound statement we all use multiple times a day and means so many different things. It’s not about an actual god but a perceived one, and it’s an outsider’s view of the human experience in terms of religion.”

Morby admits he has viewed the world through a skewed spiritual lens his entire life. As a kid he was told by his working-class parents that he was a Methodist, though the family rarely if ever made good on that claim come Sunday; he saw fire-and-brimstone billboards on Kansas roadways with the aim of scaring heathens straight. Despite his ignorance and indifference, religion seemed to be everywhere, and as Morby grew as a musician—playing bass for Woods, fronting The Babies, and with his solo career—he embraced its influence with his work. In 2016, on the heels of a trio of critically-acclaimed albums, he wrote the protest song “Beautiful Strangers” about the devastating world events of that year, and in it he inserted multiple “oh my god”s as pleas of desperation.

The song took off and the phrase became a mantra for Morby, inspiring him to weave the exclamation conceptually into the fabric of an entire album. In effect, he sought to highlight how that immortal turn of phrase embodies so much of our relationship with the sacred and profane—how religion is all around us, always, and that by simply uttering an OMG we enforce its ubiquity and ability to endure while humanizing its reach.

In January 2017, preceding the release of his fourth solo record City Music, Morby went into producer Sam Cohen’s Brooklyn studio for four days to record a handful of material written with his usual folk-meets-lo-fi-electric-guitar sound in mind. Cohen, with whom Morby made his 2016 breakthrough Singing Saw, had started recording the new songs with a business-as-usual mentality when on the third day he was struck with an idea: Rather than create what was becoming Singing Saw: Part 2, what if they stripped everything back and used only a few colours at a time instead of the entire Morby rock palette, focusing on Morby as hyper-literate singer instead of guitar-slinging troubadour?

Sam suggested that we make songs that sound like sonic pop-art that only have a few colors, like a Keith Haring piece,” Morby says. “My other records had tons of colors, so we decided to keep this stark, like a painting that’s black-and-white with one vibrant blue. We went back to the drawing board and thought about what we wanted to do conceptually across an entire piece. And for the first time I could do exactly what I wanted, as I had time and the ability to get everything precise. Sam encouraged me to let my lyrics sit on top of everything else, and that discovery and the confidence that came with making my fifth record helped me realize the new direction was exactly where we needed to be. We opened it up completely and set out to make something in its own universe.”

Over the remaining day-and-a-half, Morby and Cohen recorded new versions of four songs—“Oh My God,” “No Halo,” “Savannah,” and “Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild,” the latter becoming a mission statement for the new sound and featuring Morby singing, Cohen playing a subtle organ part, and Morby’s drummer Nick Kinsey on congas. Breaking the songs down into their separate parts served Morby’s religious theme perfectly, as did the blueprint of “Beautiful Strangers,” and over the course of 2017 he wrote an album’s worth of similar songs while on tour.

As Morby jetted around the world playing shows, he came to realize that all that air travel was making its way into his music, too. He had always used his time in the sky to work on songs and listen to demos he had recorded, but he began noticing an aero-dynamic emerging in his lyrics as well. “Flying can be something of a religious experience for many people, myself included,” he says. “It’s unnatural, and it can be so scary being that high up—a few big bumps can even make an atheist pray. You’re anxious as you take off and thinking about death, then you level off and suddenly you’re in this kingdom above the clouds. There’s a holy feeling, and a big part of the record’s theme is being above the weather. The first song, ‘Oh My God,’ starts with chaotic hammering on a piano and then smooths out with a choir singing; it’s meant to mimic how I feel on an airplane.”

All that flying also meant Morby was sleeping in a new place each night, a situation he also learned to embrace creatively—most of Oh My God’s songs were written from beds. Morby typically starts and ends each day by playing guitar or writing songs while under the covers, a practice that mimics prayer in myriad ways. “There’s something sacred about working from bed,” he says. “It’s where you make love and where you dream. I always write just before I go to sleep and right when I wake up. It’s where I can access that feeling of dreams. Any bed is always a sanctuary, but my bed at home is the Holy Grail.”

Morby sought to represent these sentiments visually for the release of Oh My God. In addition to using a portrait of him reclining in his own fluffy-white bed at home in Kansas City on the album cover, he also worked with the filmmaker Chris Good on a short film to accompany the release. The film stars Morby as he wanders through a dream-like series of encounters—on planes, in cars, in a diner, at home in his back yard—and presents a Gondry-esque vision of the album and its holy mood.

Meanwhile, in January of 2018, a full year after their initial session, Morby and Cohen returned to the studio together to complete the album’s recording. They fine-tuned the rollicking opening trio—starting with the title track, then first single “No Halo,” and “Nothing Sacred/All is Wild”— and played with various styles and techniques throughout. The ethereal “Congratulations” was written in a dream, a first for Morby. (“Someone had been singing the chorus to me over and over, and I woke up in the morning and walked to my piano and wrote it then and there.”) “Seven Devils” features a ripping guitar solo by Morby’s bandmate Meg Duffy that evokes a distorted hellfire, and “Piss River” is a stream-of-consciousness, poetic and profound tune featuring harp played by Morby’s friend Mary Lattimore while the singer has a call-and-response conversation with himself. Saxophone duties throughout the record were handled largely by Cochemea Gastelum, and a seven-member choir appears as well. Morby directed Cohen in the creation of a track called “Storm (Beneath the Weather),” a 90-second ambient instrumental piece made with synthesizers to mimic what it can feel like under the clouds. “Above the weather, you’re safe and nothing can get to you; it’s heavenly, like you achieved peace,” Morby says. “Below that you’re subject to the insanity of humanity, or Mother Nature. I wanted a weird, atonal sound on the record to represent a storm, which feels in-line with the pop-art idea.”

“Hail Mary” may be the album’s grandest moment and is recognizable as one of the few guitar-driven songs that hearkens back to his previous work. Its heavy scope is still apparent despite the fact that Morby and Cohen edited it down from its original 15-minute-long, multiple-verse version into a concise five minutes and three verses. And as the final song, “O Behold,” makes a familiar, just-in-case farewell from an airplane seat (“If the plane’s on fire/know I love you”), the listener can sense the credits rolling as the clouds begin to break, grips loosen, and the kingdom comes into view. At 14 tracks and four sides, Oh My God is an actualized concept album with a contemporary feel that is sure to plant its maker firmly in a window seat at the front of the plane.

“This one feels full circle, my most realized record yet,” he says. “It’s a cohesive piece; all the songs fit under the umbrella of this weird religious theme. I was able to write and record the album I wanted to make. It’s one of those marks of a life: this is why I slept on floors for seven years. I’ve now gotten the keys to my own little kingdom, and I’m devoting so much of my life to music that I just want to keep it interesting. At the end of the day, the only thing I don’t want is to be bored. If someone wants to get in my face about writing a non-religious religious record? Thank god. That’s all I gotta say.”


Kevin Morby has announced his fifth solo record, “Oh My God”. The double album is out April 26th via Dead Oceans. Today, he’s also sharing the album’s lead single “No Halo” accompanied by a video directed by Chris Good. Watch the video below,

“Oh My God” marks Kevin Morby’s first album since 2017’s City Music. “This one feels full circle, my most realized record yet,” Morby said in a statement. “It’s one of those marks of a life: this is why I slept on floors for seven years. I’ve now gotten the keys to my own little kingdom, and I’m devoting so much of my life to music that I just want to keep it interesting.”

Morby’s last album was 2017’s City Music, which followed 2016’s Singing Saw. Earlier this year, he teamed with Waxahatchee to cover a pair of Jason Molina songs.