- 13 May 22
Morby maps Memphis
Historian David Cohn has suggested that the Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. So it makes a kind of sense that – when ill-health gripped his father – Kevin Morby shored up there, in room 409, guitar in hand, sketching the songs for This Is A Photograph.
On the title track, he sings about a photograph of his father, young and virile, standing on his front lawn, “Ready to take the world on, beneath the west Texas sun/ The year that you were born, the year that you are now.” So, begins a Wordsworthian meditation on the memory of what has been, and never more will be.
In Morby manner – as with New York on Harlem River and Los Angeles on City Music – he adopts Memphis as a canvas on which to map his reflection. The spirit of Jeff Buckley wanders across ‘Disappearing’ and ‘Into A Coat Of Butterflies’. Stax Academy of Music alumni channel that sacred Tennessee institution on ‘This Is A Photograph’, while there were also sessions at Sam Phillips’ Recording Company, that most holy of Memphis holies.
Bobby Dupea, Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable piano prodigy moonlighting as oil rig worker, appears on ‘Five Easy Pieces’ – named for the cult ‘70s flick – in which Morby traverses the land, figuring out his father. But where family and love failed to work for Bobby, Morby transforms the search into a benediction for living.