Sundowner by Kevin Morby album review by Katie Tymochenko for Northern Transmissions

Dead Oceans


Kevin Morby


After moving from Los Angeles back to his hometown of Kansas City, Kevin Morby unexpectedly found himself with a wealth of inspiration regarding his recent geographic location change. Despite being on the cusp of finishing his 2019 album Oh My God, the new music flooded in with inspiration coming from where he’d been to where he is now. The result is Sundowner, a poetic new album inspired by a journey, but with the comforts of home.

Initially, two standouts on the album are “Campfire” and “Brother, Sister.” Both songs present interesting melodic qualities and stray away from your standard acoustic jams that can often times feel mundane. “Brother, Sister” might be one of the most interesting tracks on the album, with a hypnotic medieval tone to the song that would seize the attention of any Kurt Vile fans. The song is unpredictable and offers something different every time you give it a spin.

While it’s typically uncommon for a song clocking in under two minutes to receive such high praise, “Wander” is clearly the album’s highlight that takes listeners back on a journey through time. The folk rock euphoria heard throughout the track’s instrumentation, illustrates the classic pairing of a grungy guitar and a sophisticated harmonica. The song transports listeners to the California desert in 1960 and would be the perfect addition to a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western film. The cinematic possibilities for “Wander” are endless. Whether it’s a film on the big screen or envisioning yourself as the star, this song accompanies life’s situations perfectly.

Contrary to grungy guitars, an interesting note on the album comes towards the end with “Velvet Highway.” The instrumental piece allows for a pause in the listeners emotions as Morby sets the tone for a large finish. Primarily piano forward, the track steps away from the guitar driven narrative previously displayed on the tracks before, and diversifies the album just enough to set it apart from your typical “singer-songwriter” classification.

Concluding the sonic road trip that Morby embarked on at the beginning of this record, “Provisions” is Sundowner’s final song that ties the whole thing together. While it’s a concluding track, the lyrics allude to new beginnings or the start of an adventure that’s yet to begun. It’s an open ended finale which allows fans to explore the possibilities of where Morby’s music might be headed next.

While parts of this record might be unobtrusive, Morby still wrote an album that is worth checking out for more than just the curious minds. Sundowner is a well balanced mix of acoustic campfire songs paired with the groovy licks of desert folk rock, inspired by music from generations past. This album is a road trip in and of itself and is a must add to any playlist prior to embarking on a long journey.