Release Date: Oct 16, 2020
Record label: Dead Oceans
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Kevin Morby writes love songs about places. On Singing Saw, it was California. On Harlem River and City Music, it was New York City. On his latest record, Sundowner, it's Kansas, with its endless stretches of highway and shocking pink sunsets. Morby grew up in Kansas City, and recently returned ….
In March 2020, the pandemic hit and Kevin Morby, like everyone else, had to stop what he was doing — prepping for another round of tour dates promoting last year's Oh My God — and seclude. During this period, Morby and producer Brad Cook worked together from their respective homes to put the finishing touches on Sundowner, which was previously written during a similar state of seclusion in the singer/songwriter's hometown of Kansas City back in 2017, and later recorded in 2019 at Sonic Ranch by the Texas-Mexico border. Both of the locations where the album was made — and that sense of isolation — heavily inform the album at its core.
When Kevin Morby was finishing work on what would become his ambitious and sprawling 2019 double album Oh My God, he switched gears considerably by working on demos for new songs on a cassette four-track in the unheated shed in his backyard. While the songs for Oh My God were thick with religious iconography and intense, often dense arrangements, the new songs that Morby found himself writing while working with this antiquated recording equipment were both warmer and more subdued by comparison. He fleshed out proper recordings of his demos before leaving for a lengthy tour, and left the new tunes for later as Oh My God was officially released.
Kevin Morby has spent his life in various different places, each informing his work in different ways. There was 2017's 'City Music', dedicated to New York, whilst last year's 'Oh My God' was in an imaginary, liminal space. On 'Sundowner' he returns to his hometown of Kansas City, whilst exploring the beauty of the middle American twilight, to which there is a very certain hue.
Kevin Morby is as Kevin Morby does Kevin Morby may never top Singing Saw. From a logical standpoint, I'm okay with that - the LP was a full-bodied folk gem that rolled all of Morby's strengths as a songwriter into a tidy nine song package, and it was one of 2016's best records. As someone who was hoping that he would evolve into the face of indie-folk, I'm a bit disappointed however.