If you haven’t heard of Kevin Morby, it’s about that time. I have been digging his new album “Oh My God” so hard I need a shovel. As a musician myself, there are far too few and far between when it comes to new music that really gets its teeth in there. Sadly, and more often than not, I’ve forgotten all about the new album I listened to just the day before unless it was really something extraordinary. This is especially true with singer/songwriters.
Kevin Morby is something special. He sort of sounds familiar on the very first listen, and while I usually despise using other artists to describe an artist, I just can’t help but do so, and also somehow mean it completely complimentary in this case.
Kevin Morby’s simple but clearly spoken lyrics echo of Leonard Cohen. As does the gorgeously analog-vintage soulful production on “Oh My God” by Sam Cohen (no relation to Leonard) who has also worked with names like Shakira, Norah Jones, and Cincinnati native The National. His mood is also something like Leonard Cohen but there’s certainly some Lou Reed and Bob Dylan in there too, among others.
There are vague, but prominent religious overtones which seems to serve as structure, or some kind of base-line by which to measure the ensuing emotional upheaval. Certainly, the references to devils and halos add a rich and universal imagery to these expressions of human triumph and struggle and it doesn’t hurt that the references are often very clever. Such as “Hail Mary, yeah go long!”
Whatever it is Morby is singing about at any given point, there is no denying the organic and tremendous depth present. So often, and this is my hang-up on singer/songwriters, there is so much self-aggrandizement that any real connection to the music gets lost on me, but this album just feels plain old honest.
The album begins with a fumbling piano warm up, followed by the most enchanting, simple, and gospel-esque melody that slides right into a rapturous chorus and sax solo. Then, only three tracks later, we get a rock and roll version of the same song that somehow feels like an old friend instead of a cheap gimmick.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this work is the amount of texture and character that was achieved using so many basic and organic sounds. This has to be a result of that honesty I keep mentioning. It’s difficult to think of an instance when music or art that was somehow ingenuine had some kind of powerful emotional impact. Usually novelty is the most those kinds of creations can hope to incite in an audience, but art is in the eye of the beholder as well as the creator.
Whatever you’re into, I highly recommend giving this one a try once or twice and see how it lands. Try it on a rainy morning with your coffee or tea. Try it on a sunny afternoon with a good book. It goes well with the things you enjoy doing alone. Those little things that happen in the time that’s just for you. Don’t forget to make those appointments.
Let me know what you think!