Kevin Morby’s “Sundowner” rises to the occasion

The term sundowner is used to describe someone who feels increased melancholy during twilight hours and after more than seven months of quarantine, sundowners are more than likely on the rise. On Oct. 16, Kevin Morby released his sixth studio album, “Sundowner” – a melancholic soundtrack to the vast American Midwest. 

Morby has spent the majority of his life in the Midwest and recently returned to his old stomping grounds of Kansas City, MO, where “Sundowner” was born in his makeshift backyard recording studio. The album’s first single, “Campfire,” still holds its own among the other accompanying nine songs, for its dynamic lyrics and transitional melodies. Another standout is the ambitious “Brother, Sister,” which resembles a Bonnie and Clyde escapade involving two siblings. The lyrics are set up to be heard as exchanges of dialogue between the two, describing the steps to their mysterious midnight plan. 

“Wander” is another single that’s strong both with and without context of the album. The song clocks in at barely two minutes and is “intended to be played on a loop,” Morby advised in an Instagram post. Morby delivers the repetitive chorus of “I wonder as I wander, why was I born in the wild wonder?” in such a way that captivates the listener. His growing emotions sync with the song’s gradual increase in speed and intensity, all of which abruptly stops and leaves the listener longing for more. 

Morby just completed a series of six livestream performances with NoonChorus, each of which focused on playing the songs of his individual albums in the respective order of their releases, leading up to the anticipated release of “Sundowner.” 

“This specific release of course is met with a whole new set of emotions given that there is no tour to follow it – no immediate reward after hours of work behind closed doors – no stepping out onto a stage and getting the pay off of playing the songs with and for all the people I love,” Morby said in an Instagram post. “But perhaps the reward in the interim is acknowledging that it’s going out into the universe at a time when people need music, and all art, more than ever.”

“Sundowner” is an easy and enjoyable listening experience, successfully transporting the listener to the scenic Midwest that Morby had in mind. Even if one is unfamiliar with the Midwest, songs like “Valley” and “Provisions” are reminiscent of drives on the tranquil two-lane highways up the coast or the boundless desert sand as far as the eye can see. “Sundowner” is a glimpse into Morby’s relationship with the cycles of life and day, something most people can relate to. 

You can listen to “Sundowner” on any music streaming service, as well as browse Morby’s physical music and merchandise on https://shop.merchcentral.com/collections/kevin-morby

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