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 “Moonshiner” by Kevin Morby from the forthcoming 7″ single on Dead Oceans.
Kevin Morby has always been a bit of a tramp. Born in Lubbock, raised in Kansas City, resided in Brooklyn and now currently based in Los Angeles, the singer-songwriter sojourned with lo-fi psych pop band Woods before co-creating The Babies with Cassie Ramone, and then striking out on his own. And his stride has been quick – between Woods and The Babies, he took part in six albums in four years, and then his two stellar solo releases, Harlem River and Still Life, appeared in consecutive years. At this pace, he should be due for his third right about now, but instead, he’s slowed down just a bit to announce his new home at Dead Oceans (nearly everything he’s recorded thus far has been on the estimable Woodsist label) and a new LP due in 2016.
Thankfully, the respite has allowed him time to catch his breath and revisit some of the characters he’s met along the way, like “Moonshiner”, the subject of his 7-inch debut on Dead Oceans, due for release this Friday. The song, penned towards the start of his solo career, draws inspiration from Canadian author Patrick DeWitt’s 2011 novel, The Sisters Brothers, a darkly comic story of sibling assassins, one of whom, presumably inspiring the character of song’s narrator, does his best to shepherd his troubled brother. Instrumentally, Morby draws upon the barroom ballads you’d likely hear in a gold rush saloon, featuring gliding piano flourishes and wistful harmonica melodies, as he builds a bit more rich orchestration than you’ve heard him with before. It’s a path we’re eager to see him follow on his new trek with Dead Oceans.
Kevin Morby is currently on the road, with stops this month in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. After the 2016 Dead Oceans LP comes out, you can bet that he’ll be once again traversing the US. Look for updates on his website and Facebook page. For now, here he is performing “All of My Life” from his terrific 2014 album, Still Life, live in the KEXP studio: