On April 15th, Kevin Morby will release his third record, and first for Dead Oceans, Singing Saw. It is a record of duality, one that marks another stage of growth for this young, gifted songwriter with a kind face and a complicated mind.
In the autumn of 2014, Kevin Morby moved to the small, hilly Los Angeles neighborhood of Mount Washington. The move would shape Singing Saw. Previous tenants at Morby’s new home happened to leave an upright piano behind, with a few mysterious pieces of sheet music and an introductory book of common chords stacked on top. Thankful to finally be in one place for an extended spell, Morby, a beginner at the piano, immediately sat at the new instrument and began composing the songs that would form Singing Saw.
Alongside, he began taking long walks through the winding hills and side streets of the neighborhood each night, glimpsing views of both the skyline’s sweeping lights and the dark, dried out underbrush of the LA flora. The duality of the city itself began to shape a set of lyrical ideas that he would refine with the sparse accompaniment of piano and acoustic guitar.
The arrangements of Singing Saw trace back to Morby’s experience playing in The Complete Last Waltz, a live recreation of The Band’s legendary last performance. There, Morby developed a fast friendship with producer/bandleader Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine, Yellowbirds), which led Morby to forgo recording in Los Angeles and take the nascent songs of Singing Saw to Isokon Studios in Woodstock, New York. There, in a converted A-frame house, they set about creating a record that would bring a sonic balance, intricacy and depth to match these songs and all that inspired them. Morby and Cohen (who added guitar, bass, drums and keyboard) were joined by fellow Complete Last Waltz alum Marco Benevento on piano and keyboard. Backup vocalists Hannah Cohen, Lauren Balthrop and Alecia Chakor contributed soaring harmonies; Nick Kinsey (Elvis Perkins) added drums and percussion; Justin Sullivan, a longtime Morby collaborator and staple of his live band, contributed drums; Oliver Hill and Eliza Bag lifted numerous songs with string accompaniments, and Alec Spiegelman on saxophone and flute and Cole Kamen-Green on trumpet brought dramatic swells. Finally, John Andrews (Quilt) added the eerie lilt of the album’s promise, providing saw on the “Cut Me Down” and “Singing Saw”.
In the end, Morby fulfills the promise many heard on his first two albums, bringing his most realized effort of songwriting and lyricism to fruition. The songs of Singing Saw reflect the clarity that comes from welcoming change and embracing duality, and the distillation of those elements into an entirely new vision.
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SINGING SAW TRACKLISTING
Cut Me down
I Have Been To The Mountain
Drunk And On A Star
EU TOUR DATES:
(more info and tix here)
Thu. May 5 – London, UK @ Oslo Hackney
Fri. May 6 – Paris, FR @ La Maroquinerie
Sat. May 7 – Brussels, BE @ Atelier 210
Sun. May 8 – Amsterdam, NL @ Bitterzoet
Mon. May 9 – Berlin, DE @ Lido
Tue. May 10 – Copenhagen, DK @ Copenhagen Jazzhouse
Wed. May 11 – Gothenburg, SE @ Pustervik
Thu. May 12 – Lund, SE @ @ Mejeriet
Fri. May 13 – Aarhus, DK @ RadarSar. May 14 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow