Kevin Robert Morby is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. A former member of Woods and The Babies, Morby has released seven solo studio albums: Harlem River (2013), Still Life (2014), Singing Saw (2016), City Music (2017), Oh My God (2019), Sundowner (2020), and This Is a Photograph (2022).
Kevin Morby was born in Lubbock, Texas. His family relocated around the U.S. due to his father’s employment with General Motors before settling in Kansas City, Missouri. Morby learned to play guitar when he was 10. In his teens he formed the band Creepy Aliens.
17-year-old Morby dropped out of Blue Valley Northwest High School, got his GED, and moved from his native Kansas City to Brooklyn in the mid-2000s, supporting himself by working bike delivery and café jobs. Morby has stated he had “loved New York from the movies” he’d seen, “I just wanted to experience it”. He later joined the noise-folk group Woods on bass. While living in Brooklyn, he became close friends and roommates with Cassie Ramone of the punk trio Vivian Girls, and the two formed a side project together called The Babies, who released albums in 2011 and 2012.
Following his move to Los Angeles, Morby recorded a collection of songs with Babies producer Rob Barbato that were intended to be an homage to New York City. Released in 2013 by Woodsist Records, the eight-song collection was called Harlem River and became Morby’s debut as a solo artist. The album also features drummer Justin Sullivan (The Babies) as well as contributions from Will Canzoneri, Tim Presley (White Fence), Dan Iead, and Cate Le Bon. While on tour, Morby wrote songs that were later featured on his second album, Still Life. The album was once again produced by Barbato and released on October 14, 2014. Morby worked with Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine, Yellowbirds) on his third album, titled Singing Saw, which was released on April 15, 2016. In 2016, Morby wrote Beautiful Strangers, a protest song in remembrance of Paris 2015 attacks, Orlando 2016 shooting, and death of Freddie Gray. After various live performance that year, it was released as a single in October 2016, with the proceeds benefitting Everytown for Gun Safety.
Morby’s fourth studio album was recorded with his live band, with guitarist Meg Duffy noting: “We all worked on the next record together, pretty collaboratively in terms of arranging and playing. We spent a week in a beautiful studio, up near Stinson Beach.” The album, City Music, was released in June 2017.
Apart from City Music he also released in 2017 a cover version of “After Hours,” from the Velvet Underground’s 1969 self-titled album, in duo with Waxahatchee. As a tribute to Jason Molina, the duo covered in January 2018 two Jason Molina tracks for MusiCares, an American charity supporting musicians’ health. The digital single, also available as 7” vinyl through Dead Oceans, contained the two songs, “Farewell Transmission” and “The Dark Don’t Hide It”. The longtime private and musical relationship later led to touring and shows together, among others SXSW shows and a successful Australia tour (Sydney, Melbourne) in November 2018.
Morby’s fifth studio album, Oh My God, was announced on February 27, 2019. The first single off the album, “No Halo” was released on the same day. The album was released April 26, 2019, via Dead Oceans and was met with wide critical acclaim (19 of 20 published reviews aggregated on Metacritic were scored positive). It was featured in the April 24, 2019 The Wall Street Journal print edition headlined “Devine Intervention” and called Morby’s best. The album reached number 2 on Billboard charts Heatseekers albums. In September 2019, Morby reunited with Woods for a special performance at their Woodsist festival.
Morby’s sixth studio album, Sundowner, was announced on September 1, 2020. The first single off the album, “Campfire”, was released on the same day. The album was released on October 16, 2020, via Dead Oceans.
On May 1, 2020, Morby released a live version of Beautiful Strangers & Harlem River on an album titled On Mon Dieu: Live à Paris. The recording came from Morby’s sold-out performance at the Cabaret Sauvage in 2019. The album was released on Morby’s Bandcamp through Dead Oceans. In October 2020, Morby released a standalone single, “US Mail”, with an accompanying music video as well as sharing his own P.O. box number as a way to promote the USPS.
In February 2021, Marc Maron mentioned several times on Instagram Live that he doesn’t know who Morby is, which Morby responded to on his own Instagram page, eventually leading to Maron posting an interview with Morby on Instagram Live.
On October 12, 2021, Morby and Hamilton Leithauser, who toured together in the fall of 2021, released the single “Virginia Beach”. On October 8, 2021, Morby released A Night at the Little Los Angeles, an album of 4-track demo versions of songs that were originally on his 2020 album Sundowner. On December 13, 2021, Morby released “I Hear You Calling”, a cover of the Bill Fay song, as a part of Dead Oceans’ Bill Fay tribute 7″ series.
On March 3, 2022, Morby announced that his seventh studio album, This Is a Photograph, will be released on Dead Oceans on May 13, 2022. The lead single of the same name was released on March 3, 2022.
On January 25, 2023, Morby released Music from Montana Story, the official soundtrack to the 2021 drama film Montana Story, through Dead Oceans.
On April 25, 2023, Morby announced More Photographs (A Continuum), a companion album to This Is a Photograph which will be released on Dead Oceans on May 26, 2023. It features three reimagined versions of songs from This Is a Photograph, as well six new songs.