Kevin Morby

Singing Saw

Written by: MIN on 23/04/2017 12:42:13

Just after listening to Kevin Morby’s newest album, ”Singing Saw”, way too late, I realized that he was already in the studio making another record. However, that doesn’t change the fact that “Singing Saw” deserves a review of its own before the release of the upcoming album — simply due to the fact that it offers such delightfully unpretentious, well-executed and well-orchestrated modern folk that it’s hard to find one quite like it. Throughout the LP’s duration, Morby presents nine different takes on the great American song book, whether it be wandering around alone in the barren mountains or hitting up bars with old friends, and through all of them, it simply feels like second nature to him.

What helps complement Morby’s easy take on his music is the album’s wonderful production. Taking the single, “I Have Been to the Mountain”, as a prime example, the production excels straight from the acoustic guitar over to the soft vocals (pigeonholed somewhere between Jake Bugg and Adam Granduciel) and into an incredibly groovy bass-line. Every element weighs in exactly enough so as to never overshadow any of the remaining components, and not even the electric guitar lick or the blaring section of trumpets is allowed to take charge — just like a well-oiled machine never sputters or chokes. Even in the lengthy, desolate title-track, which features singing saws, piano, tambourines and sporadic guitar-play, the hypnotizing and almost drunken core-melody manages to keep its eye on the price and walk a straight line despite various instrumental outbursts.

Obviously, the production would only help so little if it wasn’t for the musicians involved on the album delivering their best. The amount of different instruments provides the record with a certain sound and agelessness that most folk musicians strive for their entire career. Even the songs that would otherwise be hard to find interesting (such as “Drunk and on a Star” or “Black Flowers”) suddenly become worthwhile due to a gorgeous piano intervention or an upbeat choir in the back. Especially on the album highlight, “Destroyer”, Morby’s knack for great song-writing shines through; the song starts off with a pretty simple rhythm that you’ve figured out before the first chorus but almost halfway through, he suddenly flips the track upside down and turns it into a melancholic ballad, accompanied by a sudden string quartet, which leads into a delicate saxophone breeze that you can almost see blowing softly across the water of which he sings.

“Singing Saw” doesn’t constantly thrill through its gentle atmosphere but it’s persistently good and worthy of your attention. Other choice cuts include the thick, bass-driven bar-stomper “Dorothy” and the Dylan-esque album-closer “Water”, which will either have you dancing in the living room or packing your bags for the open road — but always with some food for thought by virtue of Morby’s clever and descriptive lyricism. Since it’s the album that got me hooked on his music, I’m guessing “Singing Saw” is as good a place to start with Kevin Morby’s discography as any. For the future, I’ll be interested in discovering his past outings, but I’m also excited about what he might release next. Hopefully, it'll be just as enjoyable and present as his current offering.


Download: I Have Been to the Mountain, Singing Saw, Dorothy, Destroyer
For the fans of: Jake Bugg, Bob Dylan, The Tallest Man on Earth
Listen: Facebook

Release date 15.04.2016
Dead Oceans

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