(Photo Credit - Johnny-Eastlund)
Advance Review - Kevin Morby: Sundowner (October 16, 2020)
Kevin Morby’s Sundowner has left me mystified. With an essence of Dylan and the lightness of early Tom Waits, Morby exudes a melancholy that makes the listener feel okay with their own. While the album is thoughtful and exudes a pure, unadulterated rawness, it’s what the album is derived from that makes it so unique- an unequivocal example of what an artist will do to create an expression of themselves to an audience.
In the press release for Sundowner, Morby recounts his time in Kansas City after returning to his hometown during the winter of 2017. With the purchase of a four track Tascam, he set up a small studio space in a standalone shed in the backyard:
“The shed had no cooling or heating unit at the time, so perhaps it is important to note that during the writing of this album I was either wearing multiple layers of clothing, or hardly any at all, season depending. Which is to say, it is an album written during extremes and subjected to the elements. In the summer, brown recluse spiders would scatter from beneath the Tascam when I entered the studio and in the winter, long glassy icicles hung from the storm drain as if the shed was wearing jewelry.”
Morby coined himself as a “Sundowner”, which would then become the title track and name for a new album that would be inspired by the tracks written in the shed. This term came about when fellow musician Katie Crutchfeld came to visit. She, like him, had a quiet melancholy that came about her usually around sundown. As they quietly occupied the same spaces, a fondness for each other grew. Crutchfeld can be heard on the new album.
While I someday hope to hear the raw unedited tracks Morby recorded on the Tascam, Sundowner is an incredible feat of songwriting. Morby and Cook set up shop at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, a place where neither of the pair had worked previously. While recording in the Neve Room, an extra dimension was added to each track, most of them clocking in at almost 5 minutes long. “A Night at the Little Los Angeles”, just over 7 minutes in length, serves as an homage to Morby’s time in Kansas City. It invokes the feeling that everything is in its right place.
Rating - 4/5