The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Abby Johnston, May 27, 2016, Music

Kevin Morby

Singing Saw (Dead Oceans)

New York is a curious mise-en-scène for Kevin Morby. At 28, he's taken on a prophetic tone even as most of his fellow Brooklyn millennials are still figuring out how to pay the bills. His third solo album, Singing Saw, draws on his childhood, from the wide plains of Lubbock to the vast Midwest. The ex-Woods bassist carries his former group's local folk aesthetic into his solo work, but the dreamy title track, which dulls the rigid edges of its tool of choice into an eerie drift, emerges more expansive than Woods' chunky interpretations, adding blues riffs to the stark acoustic pickings. Although most of the album evokes cloud-gazing, bouncy folk-pop ("Dorothy") breaks up the slight haze ("Drunk and on a Star"). Stunner "I Have Been to the Mountain" marries the onetime Austinite's talent for both roots and hooks, building on chugging acoustic guitar with horn blasts, a chorus of women, and an earworm bassline. Not a lot of sky over NYC, but Kevin Morby capitalizes on any glimpse of it. (Morby returns locally to the Sidewinder on Wed., June 29.)


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