Release Date: Mar 14, 2006
Record label: Reprise
It's a little disarming to hear Fagen talk so bluntly -- although he came close to doing so on the deliberately nostalgic The Nightfly, the fact that he was writing about the past kept him at a bit of a distance -- but despite the abundance of morbid themes, Morph the Cat never sounds dour or depressing. In large part this is due to Fagen's viewpoint -- he never succumbs to mawkishness, always preferring to keep things witty and sardonic, which helps keep things from getting too heavy -- but it's also due to his smooth jazz-rock, which always sounds nimble and light. This, of course, is how Fagen's music always sounds, but here, it not only functions as a counterpoint to the darkness creeping on the edges of the album, but it's executed expertly: as spotless as this production is, it never sounds sterile, and when the songs start stretching past the five-minute mark -- two cuts are over seven minutes -- it never gets boring, because there's a genuine warmth to the clean, easy groove.