Album Notes - Kevin Morby - This Is a Photograph

Album Notes - Kevin Morby - This Is a Photograph

May 19, 2022

The band for whom he served as bassist from 2009-2013, Woods, has been featured here before. He's made multiple appearances in my year-end collections of leftover songs from records not featured, and shown up on those "close but didn't get sent out" lists each December. It's hard to believe it's taken seven solo albums to get here, but today is the first time Kevin Morby and his brand of rock/folk/not-quite-singing tunes are given the full spotlight. His latest is the best thing he's done.

If you've heard his previous work, a familiarity will greet you, but what separates This Is a Photograph is the top to bottom consistency in the quality of the songs, many of which rank as either the most beautiful in Morby's catalog or feature his most impassioned vocals. The inspiration stems from his feeling of mortality upon witnessing his father collapse at a family dinner after taking too much heart medication. The title comes from that same evening. Looking at old pictures with his mother, Morby came across one of his dad in which the (shirtless) elder was then the same age as his photo-gazing progeny. It shook Morby and eventually led him to a mid-pandemic trip to Memphis to write and record. Much of that, and the foundation for the album itself, is spelled out in the titular track and its evocative video. On top of his father's scare, numerous tragic events in the city's history provided additional fertile ground for creative ruminations borne out in the lyrics. I doubt the musician himself was expecting these kind of results. This Is a Photograph is a snapshot for an audience capturing the 34 year old at the top of his game. Following a loved one's near death, Kevin Morby has never sounded more alive.