Review: Kevin Morby crafts immersive show at SaturnBy Katie Huff | 04/27/2018 3:13pm
In November, Katie Crutchfield and Allison Crutchfield were given permanent residence at Birmingham’s Saturn, curator of unmatchable line-ups consisting of increasingly on-the-cusp artists unseen by any other local venue. Their faces have been etched into print and now hang on Saturn’s Real Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The Birmingham-based twins have a monopoly on crafting female and guitar centric music, either together or in their respective bands.
On a Monday night, April 16, Saturn housed another guitar-laced artist with a penchant for songwriting, and for finding impeccable artists to join his band that have mastered their instruments. Kevin Morby’s grimey and enchanting voice consumed the room as he sang about any and all cities and how they encompass you, like a person, providing comfort or loneliness in their grandness.
While taking a short respite from playing, Morby looked into the audience, donned in a winking suit with crying eyes on both knees and a thunderstorm surrounding his lapels in reference to his song “Cry Baby” off his recent album “City Music,” and proclaimed with glee “We’re in one of my favorite cities in the whole wide world.” Later, he said, “my girlfriend’s from here.”
Coincidentally, Morby’s girlfriend is Katie Crutchfield, or Waxahatchee, the indie rock songwriter mentioned above who released the impeccably crafted and written “Out in the Storm.” The duo toured together last year, performing at Saturn in March of 2017, and, in January, released a duo of Jason Molina covers, and you’ve committed a felony if you haven’t checked those out yet.
While it was bittersweet that Katie could not be there because she just began touring with Hurray for the Riff Raff, another boundary-pushing female artist, it was clear the venue held a gentle reminder of her legacy and indentation on Morby, as well as the Birmingham music scene.
Morby’s craftsmanship was at the forefront instantly, and the immense capacity for melodic sound and exhilarating coordination between the bass, guitars and drums. The audience knew the guitarist would be flawless and the instrumentalist to watch prior to seeing Morby’s curly hair take the stage because she, Meg Duffy, or Hand Habits, was the opener. Duffy held the audience’s attention solely as she gently strummed her guitar, making grandiose noises seem easy.
Throughout the night, each instrumentalist painted and crafted sounds that could not be produced by any other musician, or so it seemed. Each song felt singular, like it may never be performed again. Individually, each musical aspect could stand alone and reach a high level or artistry, but when Morby and his band married their sounds, it resulted in a true masterpiece that kept me waiting for so much more.
Morby is the height of immersing your audience in your sound and creating an album in person, including the feel surrounding the album. It’s a treat to see successful songwriting that is representative of cities in a city that has continued to bring crafters of music to Alabama.