City Music, the fourth solo album from former Woods bassist and Babies founder Kevin Morby, is a wistful love letter to the cities in the US songwriter’s life. A rapid follow-up to 2016’s excellent Singing Saw, its opener Come To Me Now is a beautiful widescreen tale of numbing solitude, beaters falling gently on toms, and Morby’s Dylan-esque vocals floating wearily into the city air.
The title track takes its time and builds from gently, chiming guitar beginnings to a clattering rabble-rouser. Crybaby has a healthy splicing of The Velvet Underground in its DNA, as does the fragile, world-weary Dry Your Eyes. The 100-second blast of 1-2-3-4 is a wanton tribute to The Ramones, featuring the kind of economic, effortlessly cool guitar The Strokes used to excel at.
Indeed, if there’s one city above all others that is most audibly ingrained in City Music, it’s New York. Morby paints from a wide palette and, across his quartet of records, has become a songwriter of rarified quality.