Over the past few years Kevin Morby has grown exponentially both as a performer and as a songwriter. From his time in the Babies and Woods to his critically acclaimed solo records, Kevin creates music that is at once familiar and at the same time new. He continued to do so at the 9:30 Club recently.
His talent is most clearly evident in his new LP, Oh My God. It’s a record that pushes his song craft to the forefront and is, in my humble opinion, his best album and certainly one of my favorite records of 2019. Where guitar may have been pretty prominent in the foreground for 2017’s City Music, Oh My God brings in horns, keyboards, a chorus — that vary the sound and highlight the mood and feel of each song.
The last time Kevin toured the DC area was a couple of years back at the Rock and Roll Hotel and Ottobar in Baltimore (see a recap of that performance here). For this tour, Kevin has added not only multi-instrumentalist and producer Sam Cohen to the mix, but he has brought onboard Alecia Chakour (Tedeschi Trucks Band) and Lauren Balthrop on backing vocals, master saxophone player Cochemea Gastelum (who just released his debut solo album recently), and Jared Samuel (aka Invisible Familiars) on keyboards, along with Nick Kinsey on drums and Cyrus Gengras on bass — both of whom have been playing with Kevin for the past few years.
Stream Oh My God by Kevin Morby on Spotify:
After an outstanding set by the aforementioned Sam Cohen on June 1, Kevin and his band took the stage, which was set with fluffy clouds, lights, and white and red roses. I knew this was going to be a different type of show than I’ve seen them perform in the past! From “Congratulations” — a sort of answer to a prayer with its ” You have survived / Oh, you stayed alive / This life is a killer / But, oh, what a riot” — to “I Have Been to the Mountain,” which was transformed with the full arrangement and backing chorus, Kevin Morby and his band created an amazing night of music that was both sonically beautiful and visually fun to experience.
Songs like “OMG Rock N Roll” and “Dorothy” were like manic expressions as Kevin threw his head back and forth and the band followed suit, creating a cacophony of sound. And while the crowd sang along and even jumped right in with hand claps to start off “No Halo” from the new album, it was moments like the beautiful “Nothing Sacred / All Things Wild” that made the show as the guitars went away and drummer Nick took up bongo drums as Lauren and Chakour (along with Sam) sang as a chorus accenting Morby’s “Nothing sacred, all things wild.” But the surprise duet with Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) on “Beautiful Strangers” was my personal favorite moment of the evening.
Kevin Morby has quickly become one of the best songwriters of his generation and puts on one fantastic performance. Kevin and his band are currently on tour and it’s a show not to miss. More dates can be found here.
Here are some photos of Kevin Morby and his band performing at the 9:30 Club on June 1, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.