KANSAS’ favourite guitar-wielding son, Kevin Morby, who’s delighted us over the past seven years with five rather lovely solo albums, has announced his sixth full-length set will hit the racks on October 16th – and has released a video for the lead track,, “Campfire”. Watch it with us.
With last year’s Oh My God at least partly conceptual, tackling as it did religion and secularity, albeit with a light touch, next month’s Sundowner is reportedly Kevin’s “attempt to put the Middle American twilight – its beauty profound, though not always immediate – into sound.”
He sets out thispaean to a particular ideal of the country in “Campfire,” a dusty, Dylanesque number, with a video shot around Castle Rock in his home state. That rock dust is kicking up off his fine engineers’ boots and into this song, with a little harking back maybe to the mission of The Band at the Big Pink; “there’s a campfire inside my soul … always kept time in my back pocket,” he sings, a man wondering and questing. “And where have all my friends gone / And where did all my friends go?”
Spot Kevin’s amour, Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee, ready to pick Kevin up as the song shifts into its second phase, coming on also like the seductive sirens of Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch in O Brother, Where Art Thou?: a female elemental, seemingly arising from the land itself. See the chemistry crackle over the back of that Ford.
So, Sundowner – the album title? Colloquially, it’s someone whose melancholy increases with the oncoming night.
Some three years ago now, Kevin forsook the bright lights of LA and the West Coast for a return to Kansas City. He landed harder maybe than he anticipated; although at least he “was happy to have – for the first time in my adulthood – a place to close the door, with no temptations other than to work on music and reflect on what I had built since I left.”
Katie began to visit at this time as he was setting up home, and they identified their mutual dusk mood shift – and began to refer to themselves as “sundowners”.
It’s more or less been in the can for a good long while, then; the silver lining of lockdown gave impetus to apply that final polish.
Kevin sums the album up as follows: “It is a depiction of isolation. Of the past. Of an uncertain future. Of provisions. Of an omen. Of a dead deer. Of an icon. Of a Los Angeles-themed hotel in rural Kansas. Of billowing campfires, a mermaid and a highway lined in rabbit fur.
“It is a depiction of the nervous feeling that comes with the sky’s proud announcement that another day will be soon coming to a close as the pink light recedes and the street lamps and house lights suddenly click on.”
Sundowner will be released by Dead Oceans on digital, CD, trad black and opaque sunburst vinyl on October 16th; pre-order from the Secretly Store here if you’re Stateside, including an array of merch bundles; Rough Trade are also taking pre-orders, this side of the pond.
To cap things off, Kevin’s announced a virtual, live-streaming tour via Noon Chorus. The tour will attend to a chronology and a discography rather than a geography: every Thursday beginning September 10th he’ll perform one of his albums in its entirety, beginning that day with Harlem River and culminating with Sundowner.
For more information, tickets, merch and you can even pre-order the album, visit Noon Chorus here. All performances will commence at 8pm, Central Time (2am British Summer Time).
Subsequent dates are as follows:
September 17th, Still Life;
September 24th, Singing Saw;
October 1st, City Music;
October 8th, Oh My God;
October 15th, Sundowner.