Kevin Morby – Sundowner (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 46:41 minutes | 476 MB | Genre: Alternative, Indie
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Dead Oceans
Songs, like sunsets, are fleeting, and it’s only due to a willingness and desire to catch them that you ever, if even only for a moment, grab a hold of one. When writing Sundowner, Kevin Morby was lucky to have had the Tascam 424 there to help capture both. Sundowner is his attempt to put the Middle American twilight – it’s beauty profound, though not always immediate – into sound. It is a depiction of isolation. Of the past. Of an uncertain future. Of provisions. Of an omen. Of a dead deer. Of an icon. Of a Los Angeles themed hotel in rural Kansas. Of billowing campfires, a mermaid and a highway lined in rabbit fur. It is a depiction of the nervous feeling that comes with the sky’s proud announcement that another day will be soon coming to a close as the pink light recedes and the street lamps and house lights suddenly click on.
A Sundowner is a person who suffers from increasing melancholy as the day progresses. Amid this age of global isolation due to Covid-19, Kevin Morby sings with growing sadness as the sun descends over the course of these 10 compact tracks. This sixth solo album from the Texan comes around a year after the release of Oh My God in 2019, a uniquely beautiful Christian work that brought a tear to many people’s eyes with its surging saxophones and hints of gospel. Throughout the course of his solo discography, the former Woods bassist has charmed us with his artistic juxtaposition. His works are grandiose but refined, creating images of American expanses with a clever mix of americana, rock and folk. This record is inherently simple and unpretentious, something we owe to the album’s origins. In the winter of 2017, Morby returned to Kansas City in Missouri to finish his album Oh My God. There, he acquired a second-hand Tascam Portastudio 424, one of the first four-track recorders, a veritable mini-studio. In his shed, headphones on and hunched over his Tascam, the songwriter and his many layers of pullovers (his shed has no heating) frantically composed and recorded to produce what would become Sundowner.
Two years later, his friend and producer Brad Cook came to Morby’s aid. The album was recorded at Sonic Ranch, the gigantic studio embedded in hectares of Pecan trees, far from the coast but close to the Mexican border. The aim was to reproduce the magic that had gone on two years previously in Morby’s shed. The landscape was empty, simply lit throughout the day and inhabited by stray cats. Morby plays bass, guitar, drums, the mellotron and even an out of tune Second World War organ! Big Thief’s drummer James Krivchenia provides bursts of percussion and maracas. The album begins with Valley where similarities to I Have Been to the Mountains, the lead single from Singing Saw (2016) which became a hit on the other side of the Atlantic, can be heard. This hauntingly beautiful, melancholic work is once again both nostalgic and fleeting, drawing upon the immensity of space that isolates and fascinates with its no-nonsense drawn out melodies. The work reaches its climax with A Night at the Little Los Angeles. No track is skippable, and it feels good to hear Morby at his most inspired. – Charlotte Saintoin
1. Valley (04:04)
2. Brother, Sister (04:37)
3. Sundowner (05:09)
4. Campfire (05:19)
5. Wander (01:54)
6. Don’t Underestimate Midwest American Sun (05:21)
7. A Night at the Little Los Angeles (07:10)
8. Jamie (04:11)
9. Velvet Highway (03:20)
10. Provisions (05:36)