Desktop users can click the button at the top right corner to listen to music from this album while reading the review. Mobile users scroll for content.
Every so often a pleasant record lands in your lap amidst all the commercial "noise" that undeniably prompts you to take it for a spin by delightfully not trying to advertise too much. For me, that record this month is Kevin Morby's Still Life with Rejects from the Land of Misfit Toys . Morby, perhaps best known as the bassist for New York based Indie darlings Woods is an adept singer songwriter in his own right and this comes to light in Still Life , his second full length release.
With a campfire like charm, Morby comes across as a nomadic long lost friend reaching out across the smoke. "The Jester, The Tramp, & The Acrobat" is a jovial jaunt of a song that reaches full effect with swooning organs and choice guitar chords echoing out amongst just the right volume of drums. There's nothing in your face or distinctly distraught about Morby's music but the songwriter's travels come out clearly in wisdom sharing and still searching for nuggets across the album. "The Ballad of Arlo Jones" is an excellent narrative piece that follows a friendship to its disastrous end albeit with fond remembrance. The Bob Dylan influence here is strong and while Morby's stories are beautifully illustrated and are strong enough to provoke serious soul searching they aren't being depressing enough to ruin your day. Kudos.
"All of My Life," a personal favorite, is methodical in its approach. "All of My Life, spent on you, but you never came, you'd call my name, just to disappear", sings Morby in a beautiful albeit mellow guitar piece that lands somewhere between blues and under the bridge. "Bloodsucker" is a desolate piece, featuring a whispering wind behind a stream of melancholic guitar and features Morby walking himself through regret. "I'm trying to make peace with where you are, so very near, yet so far" sings Morby after alluding to a bloody hand and knife in a previous verse. The song works it's way through your head in a non linear fashion as you piece together a possible anecdotal tale while summoning up your own memories of regret. Although the song ends abruptly amongst a song similarly relatable to swinging doors the memory of it stays with you long after.
Kevin Morby is someone I imagine as a dusty traveler, pondering impermanence and the cycle of things. However instead of lamenting over the lost misfortunes of love and chance, Morby forges forward, bearing them all in mind as he treads onward with a distant destination in mind that is shared with listeners who find themselves on the same path .