Published Apr 24, 2019It takes seconds for Kevin Morby to set the mood for Oh My God: piano roll, hushed melody and harmonized chorus, the sum of which induces a spellbound attention for the rest of the album. This is Morby's secular gospel album, a record envisioned and recorded aloft in planes, awake in beds and indefinitely on the road, with Morby, in rapturous disbelief, muttering "Oh my god" at his fortune all the while.
Not a single cut on Oh My God feels out of place. Each song is effulgent in its composition and intention, from the hymnal boogie "OMG Rock n Roll," to the wholly intimate "Seven Devils" to the bashful and bluesy "Ballad Of Faye." Despite always feeling full and fleshed-out, Oh My God is comparatively and intentionally sparse when held up Morby's earlier albums.
The many colours that so often paint his songs are desaturated here, retaining a simpler and starker palette (harp, organ, and gospel choirs are in; electric guitar solos and drum fills are out). The wild child in Morby seen on past work (take City Music's titular track or "1234" for comparison) is not apparent either, replaced with a man of letters and world-weary wisdom. Oh My God is replete with lyrics, from religious allegory to lovelorn memories, all of which demand repeat listening to fully digest.
To decree a record as an artist's "epic" is always a paradoxical accomplishment, suggesting heights that may never be reached again, and casting past works, great though they may be, into a comparative pale. But it's hard not to be awed by a record that has you saying its name to simply describe it. (Dead Oceans)