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Kevin Morby - This Is A Photograph (Album Review)

Friday, 13 May 2022 Written by Matty Pywell

Kevin Morby’s latest album comes from a place of uncertainty. Having watched his father collapse at dinner earlier in the day, the singer-songwriter found himself flicking through photos in the basement of his family home. His father recovered, but this jarring moment sparked the examination of life and death found throughout ‘This Is A Photograph’.

If his last album ‘Sundowner’ was one that abstracted everyday life in Kansas City, ‘This Is A Photograph’ finds itself rooted both in Memphis, where it was written, and in the wide expanses of America, in search of light amongst the looming shadow of mortality.

Yet even A Random Act of Kindness, one of the album’s lighter moments, feels like a bright day breaking before fading into dark thoughts. “The nightmares will greet me at my bed,” Morby sings, and it seems as though he cannot commit entirely to hope.

Every inch of ‘This Is A Photograph’ feels fine-tuned, whether it be the elegant harp strokes, piano keys that sound like sunlight fighting through the cracks in an outstretched hand, or the visceral crunch of a rare foray with electric guitar on Rock Bottom.

Within Morby’s endless wandering, he comes to no specific conclusions, no answers about finding what life really means. Instead, the album focuses on those uncertainties, which is fascinating. Days come and go, life comes and goes, and it is OK to revel in the beauty of your surroundings while also being terrified of what’s to come.

One of the main mission statements of ‘This Is A Photograph’ can be taken from Bittersweet, TN, which is a duet with Erin Rae. It resonates with what sparked the creation of this album in the first place. It tells you that if you want the painful moments in your life to last, to really give you meaning instead of regret, then take a photograph, it’ll last longer.


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