It’s tricky to make that particularly personal album, revolving around your own family, your own life. A musician is opening up more than ever before – but the stakes are higher than ever before. And there’s always the risk of becoming too navel-gazing, too involved in oneself, to the point that nobody else, including the listener, matters. Kevin Morby manages to delve deep and open up well on This Is a Photograph.
Inspired by an old photograph he found of his parents when they were young, hours after his father being whisked to the hospital, Photograph is best when Morby brings that folk intimacy. And notably he varies in style, from the backwoods hepstepper of the titular near-opener to the elegy for good times (and people) gone, “Goodbye To Good Times”. There’s the fiddle-sad duet with Erin Rae, “Bittersweet, TN”, and yet also the fun, laid-back country-blues of “Rock Bottom”.
There are times when Morby gets a little too into his own style, making songs that you only like if you already love him. But thankfully the album is more a window into him than some grand rock opera. This Is a great Photograph.