Six months ago, a friend of mine suggested I check out a guy named Kevin Morby. “Sounds like Bob Dylan,” I remember thinking to myself. Since then, I’ve seen Morby and his band three times, each show more rockin’ than the last. His Monday night set at Boot and Saddle was different for a couple reasons; it was my first time seeing him both outside of a festival setting, as well as my first time seeing him following the release of his 3rd LP, Singing Saw, this past April.
Monday night’s set brought with it a few more firsts. Morby played—for the first time ever, he told us—a 30 second-long song he wrote about Philly street names to the tune of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Blues Run The Game” (“Meet me down at Broad,” he sang). It was also my first time hearing a new Morby tune called “Tiny Fires,” which sounded more like early Wilco than Dylan.
But what’s best about a Kevin Morby show is not the new, but the old (or rather, the sounds old); mellower tracks like “Miles, Miles, Miles,” “Parade,” and “Black Flowers” (which, along with a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “No Place To Fall,” he played solo) would feel right at home at The Gaslight Café (of Greenwich Village). CBGB might be a better fit for tunes like “I Have Been to the Mountain” and “The Ballad of Arlo Jones,” on which guitarist Meg Duffy (whose solo on “Destroyer,” may I add, lead me believe that she is some sort of real-life guitar goddess) dug in and let loose.
I’m far too young to have seen Bob Dylan in his prime. I did once see Dylan, and I believe it suffices to say that I left early. Only time will tell if some teenager 50 years from now will be writing (on whatever media platform prevails in the year 2066) about losing patience for a lackluster set by a hoary Kevin Morby who stopped being good after 20 records and started recording Christmas music to pay the bills, but that’s not quite the point. I’m just glad someone’s around to defend folk rock’s good name.