Kevin Morby Leaves Nothing On The Table
As is the case with many artists there is a need to almost purge thoughts and ideas that have swimming in their head through their work. This is all part of the artistic process. Take these thoughts that have been weighing on you and turn them into something that helps to release them. Put these sometimes hard to pinpoint ideas into words and music and turn them into a congruent and universal intentions so that everyone can relate. Most of the time after the process is finished, you pick up and move on to the next thing when the urge strikes. In the case of the prolific Kevin Morby there was some unfinished business left over after his last record, 2022’s wonderful This Is a Photograph. After Morby released that last collection of songs into the world, he still felt there was something drawing him back, some things that felt unfinished. Which is now why we are treated to the wonderful singer/songwriters new album More Photographs (A Continuum), out May 26th via Dead Oceans. The record isn’t a sequel of sorts but as he puts it more of a “sequel, prequel and primer” to his already lovely last album. When we reach him on the phone from his home in Kansas City,, Morby details why he felt the need to come back to the themes he thought he already explored, what that process was like and how it finally felt like he had tied “a bow on that time and place in his creative life” with this new collection of songs.
“When we finished that first album there were certain songs that we left lying on the table,” Morby explains about this revisiting. “These were b sides, like obvious b sides but I was kind of mourning not being able to give them a proper release. I went back and we re-recorded them with different arrangements and tempos. Creating alternate versions or new realities for them. It’s like putting an addition on a house you’ve lived in for awhile. It’s all under the umbrella of some of the things on the last record but it’s the perspectives of them I wanted to expand on.” Don’t think that these are just new versions of old songs. The perspectives of the narrator has been flipped in some cases, while others act as origin stories to the songs that have come prior to them. It’s fresh in the best possible way and simply acts as a deeper dive into what he has done before. Something that big fans of the last record will especially love.
“I am really happy with the initial record”, he says. “I like to think of this new one as an expansion pack to the previous album. If you’re someone that wants to continue living in that universe or expand that world, without beating the themes in these songs to death”, Morby says with a laugh. Throughout the album Morby sings of people and places that have greatly affected his life. Memphis, Tennessee comes up quite often on More Photographs (A Continuum) and as he explains, that was a place that became very special to him over the course of the pandemic.
“I was visiting Memphis a lot during the pandemic. I was kind of using it as a nice place I could get away to when I needed to get out of my home. It really reminds me of how American cities used to be. There’s a grit to it and it’s not just exactly like every American city’s downtown. With a lot of these cities you can’t tell one from the next. They’ve all just become so identical,” Morby says. “There was just something about Memphis that was refreshing and different. The type of place where young artists could live and thrive almost like they had the run of the city.” Elsewhere on the album Morby sings of family and icons of the past that have also affected his writing. Figures like Jeff Buckley and Chris Bell of Big Star appear alongside Mickey Mantle and River Phoenix. When asked why these figures in particular, Morby explains it was almost like he was harkening back to a more comfortable time in America’s past. “These were all people that have been a long part of the “American Conversation”. Figures that have kind of been in the fabric of our history and have popped up in popular culture. Coming out of the pandemic has been really good but last year especially was really stressful. It was like we were handed this broken world and were just told to go deal with it. So I guess it was more of a comfort thing to write about these places and people for me.”
With More Photographs (A Continuum) Kevin Morby has added another great addition to, not only his own repertoire, but to what he calls the “American Conversation”. It’s an another absolutely stunning addition to the house of music he has built for himself, and us, and something you won’t regret digging as deep into its foundation as you feel.
Pre-order More Photographs (A Continuum) by Kevin Morby HERE
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