US - New York - Full Moon 223 - 11/06/14
Still Life is the second solo album from Kevin Morby (his debut, Harlem River) came last year, on Woodsist as well) - the former bass-player from the noise-folk band Woods, as well as the songwriter/guitarist of indie-rock outfit The Babies (along with Vivian Girls' Cassie Ramone). Well, the full title of this album is Still Life with the Rejects from the Land of Misfit Toys, which is the title of the art piece (of work) by Maynard Monrow the album is named after, and fronted by (as in cover art). Let us check out this pop art/art pop Stillleben, shall we?
Kevin Morby is said to have namedrop Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Simon Joyner among his favourite artists. Simon who?, some might add, but Joyner is a singer/songwriter (from Omaha, NE). Joyner has influenced the music of Bright Eyes, and he has collaborated with John Darnielle (of The Mountain Goats). Joyner was listed on Beck's 'Top 10 albums' (when Rolling Stone Magazine asked Beck to do so), and, finally, the famous, British BBC radio DJ John Peel played Joyner's album The Cowardly Traveller Pays His Toll (from 1994) from beginning to end on air. However, Morby stands pretty much fine on his own feet. Still Life holds ten tracks, and the songs ooze with some twisted and magic moods. Songs from the moods, one might say. Maybe coloured by Morby and his life 'in transit', traveling, or moving from Kansas City, to New York City's Brooklyn, and then onward to his 'now base', Los Angeles (leaving NYC for good). Like Wikipedia states: 'Morby learned to play guitar when he was 10. In his teens he formed the band Creepy Aliens. 17-year-old Morby dropped out of Blue Valley Northwest High School, got his GED, and moved from his native Kansas City to Brooklyn in the mid-2000s, supporting himself by working bike delivery and café jobs.' Well, that is the story of one's life according to Wiki. Morby for sure has moved on with his life/career from 'bike delivery jobs' and 'café jobs' to a full-blooded, serious indie-Americana musician. With his song-writing he has an eye for the mellow, with touching, concerning, heartfelt songs. In that case, maybe "The Jester, The Tramp & The Acrobat" in some way is sort of a biographical tale. The fabulous drive of "The Ballad of Arlo Jones" is way cool. The slow and dazed calm of "All of My Life" is really neat. So is "Parade" and "Amen", as well as the closing "Our Moon".
Still Life is a fine treat, presenting tenderness and sweetness in the most bitter way.
In some strange way Morby makes me think of Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. This is indeed strange thoughts, because the music of Morby is something completely different than Cocker's music. Yet, there is some similarity, or relations within the music of the two gents. Dylan is present in Morby's music, and so is Reed (somehow). Still Life for sure is pleasant company, and I think I will return to this record several times through the coming winter. Probably after that time, too. Morby called his solo debut album (Harlem River) a "...love letter to New York City", and he has said that he always "...interpreted the 'land of misfit toys' in the album's namesake piece to be that of New York". Well, it seems he is still working to complete/finish his relationship with NYC.
Copyright © 2014 Håvard Oppøyen