Prolific singer-songwriter Kevin Morby is back with his fifth solo album, Oh My God.
After stints in Woods and The Babies, Morby has solidified his status as one of this generations finest songwriters. Morby, along with Kurt Vile, Cass McCombs, Matthew Houck (Phosphorescent) and Adam Granduciel (The War on Drugs) all create modern, non-derivative music that taps into the earnest, ragged feel of the best classic rock.
Labeling these guys as “indie” is really a disservice, when they could have been as revered as Nilsson, Lennon, Dylan and Springsteen in their day. They all use the musical and emotional language of classic rock, reinterpreting it for a new generation. For anyone who thinks “real rock” is dead, it isn’t. It’s just hiding underground, and great artists tour in vans, not private planes. Sorry guys!
As you might’ve guessed, Oh My God is an album concerned with faith and religion. With a gospel choir, piano, organ and saxophone, Morby creates a swampy Southern feel. He evokes feelings of spiritually and faith, rather than explicit musings on religion, which easily could’ve turned cliché. Instead, the Sunday vibe is created by the choir that unexpectedly swoops in at the end of otherwise punky “OMG Rock n Roll,” the warm Garth Hudson-inspired organ of “Hail Mary” and the celestial harp of Mary Lattimore, who also performed on Vile and McCombs’ recent records.
Still, the album could be trimmed down a bit, and I feel that way about the work of all the artist mentioned above. Having too many ideas isn’t the worst problem though, and the songs that miss the bullseye are still good. Cutting meandering tracks like “Nothing Sacred/All Things Wild,” the jazz instrumental “Ballad of Faye” and the interlude “Storms” would create a stronger overall impact.
Oh My God, while in need of editing, is another great record by a prolific talent. Kevin Morby strips his music to its core, then adds gospel elements to create a warm, timeless sound. Hopefully with this release, he’ll get the recognition he deserves, but if only his devoted cult fanbase love it, that’s good enough too.