Song of the Day: Kevin Morby - I Have Been to the Mountain

Song of the Day
04/05/2016
Jim Beckmann
photo by Dusdin Condren

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is "I Have Been to the Mountain" by Kevin Morby from his forthcoming album, Singing Saw, due April 15th on Dead Oceans.

Kevin Morby - I Have Been to the Mountain (MP3)

Though the singing saw is emblematic of Kevin Morby's new album, it is the ruminative piano that's truly at its core. The Kansas City-bred singer-songwriter, who had earlier relocated from the most densely populated city on the East Coast to the most sprawling one on the Left, moved into a new neighborhood, a new house, which came with an old piano. Though strings had been Morby's instruments of choice, he took to the keys to germinate his third solo album. As a result, the songs, later developed and recorded with Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine, Yellowbirds) in Woodstock, New York, travel many more paths than on his previous LPs. Though the mournful sound of singing saw does show up from time to time (courtesy of Quilt's John Andrews), it's but one of many of the new album's running themes and acts as a counterpoint to the audacity of today's featured song. "I Have Been to the Mountain" is maybe the most richly orchestrated of all of Morby's songs, as it features propulsive rhythms, dogged acoustic strumming, an angelic choir, mariachi horns, and psychedelic skronking guitar, all to support the lyrics' hallucinatory prophecy: "I have been to the mountain / And I have walked on his shores / I have seen, but I can't see him no more". Dire warning or mere observation? Either way, the feeling is ultimately one of changing mystery and perpetual intrigue, which make for required and repeated listening, as on all of Kevin Morby's songs.

You can hear more from the Singing Saw, before it comes out on April 15th, with the video below of "Dorothy", the album's latest single and an ode to Kevin Morby's guitar. Look out for his return to Seattle on June 8, when he performs at Tractor Tavern. Until then, keep up with him on his website and Facebook page.

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