City Music

Kevin Morby - City Music
Critic Score
Based on 21 reviews
2017 Ratings: #225 / 898
User Score
Based on 192 ratings
2017 Ratings: #118
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The Skinny

More candid but just as magical, City Music is another magnificent record from Morby.

The Line of Best Fit

City Music is, without fail, one of the most quintessential albums of the year so far.


'City Music' is a work of breathtaking execution; confident, stylish and crafted with a canny eye for detail.

Northern Transmissions

To make the inevitable Dylanesque comparison, if Singing Saw was Morby’s Freewheelin’, then City Music may well be his Highway 61 — an affirmation that his ability as a singer-songwriter has only gotten better with time.

A.V. Club

There’s a lot of musical shape-shifting on City Music, but the varied approach helps capture the gritty, up-and-down nature of a place that never sleeps. Morby inhabits a gloomier, more mysterious place than before, but it’s one he nonetheless has great affection for.


Kevin Morby’s captivating fourth album feels spacious and intimate at once. It possesses an elegant, dusky atmosphere and Morby’s hopelessly optimistic songwriting is the best it has ever been.

Loud and Quiet
This is a very natural sounding record, effortless in form, stylistically distinct and completely coherent.
From the outset it makes clear that it features songs that aren’t rooted in any one place or time, but are effortlessly stitched together to create a dynamic mapping of modern urban existence.

City living might sometimes feel like a constant high-intensity assault course, but ‘City Music’ and its creator make it sound like an enlightening, emboldening adventure.


As with his debut, City Music feels very much like a postcard to New York, though this time Morby arrives with some accumulated miles to help support his wizened tone.


In its own way, City Music is just as ambitious as the more obviously musically ambitious Singing Saw was; have this on hand for certain literary yet off-kilter late night city moods.


Morby has said Singing Saw is Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, while City Music is Lou Reed and Patti Smith, and you can’t draw a much brighter line between two things than that.

Under The Radar

If last year's Singing Saw had the pace and feel of going down river, City Music has that of heading down the avenue. Morby vacillates in both settings comfortably, claiming them as his element.

Drowned in Sound
If he wants to continue finding new ways to explore these same ideas over and over again, it will be worth listening every time.

It’s almost inevitable that an urban record made by an American rock classicist – especially one who moved to New York as a teenager like Morby did – will evoke Lou Reed.

American Songwriter

While City Music certainly doesn’t surpass Singing Saw, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to hear Morby take a walk on the wild side.

Consequence of Sound

When the record does stumble, it’s because he’s trying to juggle too many ideas at one time as opposed to a lack of effort. Mostly, City Music succeeds at displaying Morby’s strength as a rocker, and along with Singing Saw, the two together paint him as an artist truly coming into his own.

The 405

The record is indeed an aimless slog ... Morby can do so much better. It’s heartening to see an artist have so much faith in their ability to bang out a high quality product whenever they sit down to record. In this case, the confidence is misplaced.

Solid collection of tracks from Morby. However, the record as a whole lacks cohesion and seems to ramble.
#2 Crybaby, #8 Tin Can, #11 Pearly Gates
"City Music" isn't the easiest singer-songwriter record of the year, but it's an impressive and nuanced work. Kevin Morby is at his most atmospheric and takes his time, yet he's hardly a dirge writer. Morby's soundscapes and songwriting approach are both unfailing warm, and he's eclectic enough to keep things interesting. Repetition can get annoying with some songwriters, but he makes it work; for some reason, some of these repeated phrases seem more profound over time.
City Music is a set of 12 tracks that are filled with impressive songwriting and great melodies. I only recently found the music of Kevin Morby after seeing him live just a few weeks ago, but his new release is something definitely enjoyable and fun to listen.
overrated. Lyrically inferior and repetitive. If you don't care about the words then you will dig it.
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Added on: March 22, 2017