Kevin Morby: Oh My God review – a master songwriter at work

In contrast to the bucolic sounds of Singing Saw (2016), Kevin Morby’s 2017 follow-up, City Music, was a love letter to New York City. While the irresistible scuzzy momentum of the Velvets’ I’m Waiting for the Man is evoked again on OMG Rock n Roll here, lyrically Morby shifts his focus to more spiritual matters. If not quite a concept album, then there are certainly religious themes running through Oh My God, as Morby muses on the all-pervasive influence of faith.

These lyrical concerns are reflected in the music. But while there’s a newfound gospel sensibility at play, most notably in the handclaps embellishing No Halo and the female backing vocals of Piss River and the Dylan-esque O Behold, it’s refracted through a prism of agnosticism.

Indeed, it’s unlikely you’d ever have heard Mahalia Jackson singing “nothing’s sacred”, let alone “time’s a funny motherfucker”, as Morby does on the standout Hail Mary. Meanwhile, the more spare use of instrumentation – a splash of sax here, a concise guitar solo there – serves to underline the strength of these songs. A non-religious religious album might seem like a conceptual dead end, but this is another accomplished set from a master songwriter.

Watch the video for OMG Rock n Roll by Kevin Morby.


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