Kevin Morby spent the bulk of 2013 in transit, touring with his bands Woods or the Babies or in support of his first solo effort, Harlem River. While on the road, he wrote much of the material for his sophomore release, Still Life. True to its title, the album moves with a sluggish, drowsy gait, as if he had spent too much time in the sun. Acoustic guitars ripple dramatically and saloon pianos creak while Morby’s lyrics suggest a wayward hunt for something vague (“All I wanted was some peace and quiet,” he laments on “The Jester, the Tramp & the Acrobat”) punctuated by sighs of defeat and glimmers of hope.
On “All of My Life,” Morby idly chases a slippery romantic interest, channeling the nonchalant spirit of “Range Life”-era Stephen Malkmus. Sparse snare snaps and twinkling guitars form a muted, soulful backdrop. “What if no one cares?” Morby wonders.
The brightness of “Parade” gently breaks through the otherwise sullen album with uplifting group vocals and verses like, “If you come to search for what is lost/ May you find it/ May you find it at any cost…All my friends were there/ Waiting on me.”
After a congenial split from Woods and with the Babies on hiatus, Morby finally has the freedom of complete control. Still Life‘s quiet, reflective beauty suggests a departure from Woods’ cool-dad psych-pop vibes and the Babies’ bong rips. Morby steers his own way now. Chances are it’s somewhere pensive and powerful.