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Kevin Morby: This Is A Photograph

By Madisyn Siebert

Morby takes us down memory lane as he remembers that the world around us is always a constant thing, changing and growing, and how we can’t take that for granted.

Morby’s sound reminds me of a modern-day Bob Dylan with a hint of Lumineers, melting the two into a smooth cohesion. The heavy folk is brought out not only by the twang sounds, but by the storytelling narrative that is often left excluded from more modern music. It brings us back to listening to great singers like Johnny Cash and Cat Stevens, weaving intricate stories into their songs that leave little to the imagination and lead you directly to the point. Or as many would say, being blunt. Morby does a great job of twisting his folk sound by adding in classic rock to cut it, with riveting guitar solos, catchy beats being dropped by the drums and even shifting his voice when needed. All of this gives the album that folk-rock feel you can’t help but love.

“This Is A Photograph” reminds me of driving down country roads on your way to an old family friend’s house, where you can smell the fresh air and have the windows cracked enough to have your hair flicker back and forth from the wind. Those moments of pure happiness where you let your soul guide you to where you need to be, the music inspiring you along the way.

Morby brings in Erin Rae for the song “Bittersweet, TN,” one of my personal favorites on the album. Rae’s voice perfectly compliments Morby’s, whose sound is like a nice strong coffee you just poured and Rae’s being the sweet cream that melts and dilutes into the coffee, making it a whole new drink right in front of your eyes. You can feel the passion in both of their voices, both knowing the taste of what bittersweet actually is.

Another callout for this album is the use of a variety of instruments, from tambourine, harmonica, saxophone, violins and more. Morby’s vision of crafting this world of memories brings in these instruments to help shape his craft, as well as sound effects from snapping to echoing voices, which truly helps engulf you in his narrative.

Morby gave a lot of solid insight on this album—my favorite being not to swim in the Mississippi River. The great thing about listening to Morby though is how easy it is, especially since he speaks for most of his album. It feels like your grandfather telling you an old story from his glory days—hazy, yet all intact. It really makes you hear what Morby has to say, just like it does with a grandparent, like a story they are remembering in the moment and want to desperately share with you before it fades away again.

If you’re looking for something soothing and something that you are ready to zone into, I highly recommend Morby’s, This Is A Photograph. If you are looking for something to zone out on and just have background noise, please do not do this album injustice, and pick another one. This album deserves to be cherished, listened to and thought on because it is more than just noise to make the workday easier, it is a collective story awaiting your ear and your time.

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