Kevin Morby: Singing Saw

Roger passed this new one across to me. He likes Kevin Morby’s previous band, Woods, but he’s not sure about Singing Saw (Dead Oceans), the 28-year-old American singer/songwriter’s third solo album, or at least he wanted a second opinion – first.

And young Morby did seem a bit tepid on first encounter, in an old soft rock sort of way. But this album’s a bit of a grower, probably especially for anyone with a taste for those ancient whine makers Dylan and Cohen.

With his dry, nasal vocals and his fetching feel for a bittersweet melody, Morby sounds better with every play so far.

This is one of those quiet albums that’s best played loud. It’s beautifully played and recorded. What at first sounds understated swells to symphonic levels on tracks like the hypnotic seven-minute title song, which actually does feature a singing saw, along with some nifty dirty surf guitar and what sounds like a choir of angels drifting past.

The nine songs here tend to be long and languorous, but in the best possible way, perhaps peaking with the final song, Water, which seems like a new stately Lenny Cohen singalong with a young Dylan on vocals.

It would be kind of insulting if it wasn’t so good.

Roger’s not getting this one back.