Music has led Kevin Morby from Kansas City to New York and now Los Angeles: center, east and west. However, if Morby’s influenced by any one place over another, it’s New York — particularly the era when the Big Apple’s folk scene began to morph into early punk rock; the city of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Television.
“It’s the most important time in music,” Morby tells EW, “but also just the coolest.”
Morby says that the song “Miles, Miles, Miles” from his solo debut, Harlem River, captures the sound of his influences most clearly.
“There’s a lot of genre crossover,” he says.
In it, you’ll hear the jingle-jangle guitar of Dylan’s folk-rock era mixed with organ work reminiscent of “Like a Rolling Stone.” Elsewhere, Morby’s hazy baritone is Quaalude-cool as he borrows from Lou Reed on the Harlem River track “Wild Side (Oh the Places You’ll Go).”
Morby got his start playing bass in popular indie group Woods and is one-half of the band Babies, alongside Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls. He’s now touring in support of his second release, Still Life With Rejects From The Land of Misfit Toys. Morby says his solo work allows him to express himself more personally, describing it as “quieter, more folk stuff,” such as album closer “Our Moon.”
However, the standout “Ballad of Arlo Jones” swings on an up-tempo, surf-rock groove. Throughout the record, Morby’s guitar work recalls the textural and angular sound of Television guitarists Tom Verlaine and Fred Smith.
Kevin Morby plays with critically acclaimed, lo-fi psychedelic folk singer Jessica Pratt 7:30 pm Monday, Feb. 23, at The Barn Light; $8 general, $6 students. All ages.