Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Best of 2019 • Kevin Morby • Oh My God



Across four solo albums (and turns in bands like Woods and the Babies), Kevin Morby has always worn his influences on his sleeve. Or record sleeves if you will: Depending on your Ikea shelf space or online playlists, one might hear throughlines to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and Leonard Cohen’s New Skin for the Old Ceremony, the rock-as-savior gestures of Spiritualized and Springsteen. Or maybe you hear Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Randy Newman, and the War on Drugs instead. Depending on the line and moment, Morby can deftly emulate all of the above. The more you appreciate this rock canon, the more likely that Morby hit some of your sweet spots. Even when it came to covering the feral punk of the Germs, Morby found a way to make “Caught in my Eye” sound like a lost Dylan cut. PF



Morby keeps the instrumentation sparse but rich, with horns, harps, piano, organ and backing choirs peppered throughout. His musical erudition is fun, too. “OMG Rock n Roll” taps the ballroom body-moving side of the Velvet Underground, with chugging organs and Morby as soulman, testifying, “Oh my lord, come carry me home.” Other moments bring to mind bliss-chasers from Laura Nyro to the Mamas and the Papas to his fellow Great Plains questers the Flaming Lips. Ultimately, despite its divine themes, the pleasures of Oh My God are pleasantly transitory, less a reckoning with the Almighty than the religious experience of casually browsing a well-stocked used record sale in a church basement. RS

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