Album Review: Kevin Morby - "City Music"
Much like the music coming out of New York in the late '60s/early '70s, be it Lou Reed, Patti Smith or earlier with Bob Dylan – you can nearly hear the sounds and smells of the city in Kevin Morby’s new record, City Music. Comparable to New York City itself, the true beauty of City Music is the serenity within the figurative cigarette smoke, constant motion, and overall grit.
As a Los Angeles resident over the last two years, Kevin Morby does not hide from his environmental influences. Whether it be in his hometown of Kansas City, his former adopted hometown of New York, or his current LA home base, Morby invites each city to imprint itself into him and his music. This record is the musical embodiment of time spent in those metropolitan hubs on the road and at home.
City Music has a definite East Coast vibe. In the song "1234," Morby name-checks every member of the Ramones, and the poem by Flannery O’Conner at the halfway point of the record recalls something Patti Smith has done on her records. Having been written during the same time period, City Music has been billed as a companion piece to the excellent, breezy, West Coast-feeling Singing Saw, but the two have decidedly different feels. There are certainly some parallels, but City Music manages to recreate, in song, the specific energy you feel by being back east.
Though City Music certainly symbolizes a book-end of sorts on the last few years for Morby, it deserves to stand out in any library. It also signifies a songwriter with growing confidence and willingness to adhere to life’s many surrounding. In the case of Kevin Morby in 2017, the setting happens to sound like lingering around a living room listening to Lou Reed with the sounds of the bustling streets below.