It’s well worth immersing yourself in the deeply textured reflections of ‘Singing Saw’, the third solo outing of atmospheric folk rock from ex Woods bassist (and The Babies front man) Kevin Morby. The Texan singer songwriter proves himself a prodigious talent on this highly enjoyable collection of songs packed with subtle details that punctuate the album with sublime moments of musical brilliance.
‘Cut Me Down’ gets things off to an atmospheric start, the laid back folky vibe and intimate sound accentuating the subtle guitar lines and bluesy acoustics, while ‘I Have Been To The Mountain’ follows in more upbeat style. There’s an easy funkiness to the bass line and a swirling quality to the acoustic riff that make for a hypnotic groove; throw in some percussion, layers of horns and backing vocals and we have a very cool track.
The first half of the album is probably the stronger; there’s a dark air to the stark acoustic guitar underpinning ‘Singing Saw’, which is one of the stand out tracks. It slowly builds to a mechanical drum sound and guitar licks and is an unhurried richly textured gem, the spidery solo adding to the atmospheric seven minute sound scape. ‘Drunk and On a Star’ follows with more unhurried beauty and some nice touches of orchestration.
There is a slight change in direction half way through with the up tempo rocky riffing and Jesus and Mary Chain-esque melody of ‘Dorothy’. It’s cool enough though, with plenty of nice touches of piano and horns between the lines. ‘Ferris Wheel’ is slightly laboured by comparison and is a bit of a mid album lull of piano led reflection.
Prior to the country style meanderings of album closer ‘Water’ we get a couple of mighty fine, albeit slightly quirky, songs in ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Black Flowers’. The mechanical melody of the former gains another dimension when the strings come in, the lilting violin superb, and when the horns enter it takes on a vibe of free jazz to contrast with the piano monotony. Meanwhile there is a slight Oriental feel to ‘Black Flowers’, its easy acoustic picking underscored by an almost jaunty rhythm – instrumentally speaking it’s really quite lovely, delicate drops of piano punctuating the song as it subtly increases in tempo, growing ever richer; excellent stuff.
On the whole this is a fine record from Morby; it is beautifully executed and has so many layers, yet also allows individual passages to stand out in breathtaking style. Well worth exploring deeply to get to know it intimately.
‘Singing Saw’ is out now.