Album review: Kevin Morby, “Singing Saw”

by Jon E. Lynch

Kevin Morby, “Singing Saw”

Available: April 15 via Dead Oceans as a download, CD, LP and in limited edition forest green vinyl while supplies last.

In late 2014, I was floored and momentarily obsessed with Kevin Morby’s first proper solo record, “Still Life,” released on the Woodsist record label. I was already familiar with his work in the low-fi indie pop outfit The Babies, which he co-founded with Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls while playing bass with Woods. The Babies began as a side project with the expressed intent of fleshing out song ideas for their respective solo careers. Seems as though the time was more than productive and well spent.

On his debut for the Dead Oceans record label (Marlon Williams, The Donkeys, Califone, Strand of Oaks, etc), Morby found his stride. Sometimes morose but often poignant and reflective, his lyrics are layered onto compositions that began as minimalist piano sketches. The fullness of the album is rounded out with acoustic guitar, backup vocal harmonies, dense string arrangements, multiple percussionists and on a couple tracks, a singing saw. Add in production and additional instrumentation from Sam Cohen (“The Complete Last Waltz,” “Apollo Sunshine,” “Yellow Birds”), and you’ve got an album that will likely appear on many Best of 2016 lists.

Are you fan of Father John Misty, Timber Timbre, James Jackson Toth, Wooden Wand or Destroyer? If so, this album might be for you.

— Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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