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ALBUM REVIEW: Kevin Morby - City Music

Written by Jack O'Flaherty

It’s rare to find an album with so much going for it; song writing, atmosphere and composition. Kevin Morby’s fourth solo album is one such album.

City Music lives up to its title, an album so overflowing with ambience and character, you could be walking the crowded streets of New York; Morby’s inspiration for the album.

Kevin Morby – City Music

The record opens on with a sombre, pump organ introduction. Come to me Now is a gloomy story of welcoming the darkness, and his disillusion with city life.

A perfect opener to the album.

Crybaby and 1234 follow the opener, tracks with more than a little outside influence. The former a Lou Reed inspired track again about the troubles and emotions of being an outsider in a big city.

In contrast, 1234 is a straight ode to the legendary punk rock outfit The RamonesA bluesy punk number that finishes with Morby chanting the member’s names; Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy.

The record continues through Aboard my Train and Dry Your Eyes, which couldn’t be more contrasting.

The first, as the name would suggest, a motoring song that rolls along with Kevin doing his best Dylan impression, which is not at all a criticism.

It is a sign of Morby’s song writing ability that it does not come off as a tacky rip off – Dry Your Eyes for me is the weakest song on the record, repetitive and slow, and one that I feel kills the pace of the album.

The middle of the album is where its atmosphere comes alive, Flannery is a spoken track, an extract from Flannery O’Connor’s book The Violent Bear It Away,  about a person who has never been to a city before.

The track perfectly sets up for the title song that follows and in my opinion the strongest one on the record.

aMorby’s innate ability to create an image is clear in City Music, where one doesn’t have to try too hard to envisage themselves being greeted by the warm glow of a city.

The tracks variety of instruments creates a structured chaos over the track, just like a city.

The next four tracks tell a variety of stories about city life, closing with Downtown’s Lights, A dark look at the reality of someone’s life who is down and out, and facing the very end.

Few albums I’ve heard this year have had such a strong sense of atmosphere as this one. Morby’s masterful song writing and musical composition justifies the comparisons to song writing greats.

City Music is gloomy, uplifting, chaotic and wonderful, just like a city.

Listen to the new album; Kevin MorbyCity Music, below:

Jack O'Flaherty

Written by Jack O'Flaherty

Student broadcast journalist at Nottingham Trent University