Although I’m not a person who cares too much about music trends and popularity, I couldn’t help but check the results of last week’s Grammys. As most people know, the winner for “Album of the Year” at the Grammys came as a complete surprise. Without getting too philosophical or turning this post into a musical thesis, I will say that seeing Beck’s “Morning Phase” win this award left me both confused and satisfied; confused because of the collective shock that almost everyone experienced, and satisfied that such a talented musician was praised for his work. Having not heard the album before the Grammys, I immediately found and listened to “Morning Phase.” This Grammy winner is the center of my next review.
Beck Hansen, residing in Los Angeles, CA, is a very talented multi-instrumentalist whose career has spanned over twelve albums and thirty years. The first album I heard by him was “Odelay,” an interesting mix of contemporary rock, folk, and even old-school rap. I was surprised to learn that each album has its own unique style. Only this week I listened to “Morning Phase,” an album easily influenced by folk and country rock. Spending 3/4 of an hour listening to this album, I found myself surprisingly enjoying this album.
For those who consistently read my blog, they will notice that country or folk are genres that are never mentioned. Continuing my musical exploration, I decided to shake things up by giving praise to such an album. The calm, acoustic sound is very relaxing, and I love focusing on the instruments used in this album. Ranging from guitars, to banjos, to dulcimers, to glockenspiels, “Morning Phase” provides the most unique arrangement of instruments I have seen in any album I’ve heard. It is truly amazing to see such talent and collaboration with musicians.
Although this album contains songs entirely different than those I usually listen to, some songs on “Morning Phase” stood out to me. The album’s single “Blue Moon” may be the album’s most noticeable, but it is also one of the album’s best. Containing that amazing arrangement of multiple instruments, Beck’s vocals complements the band perfectly. A song of loneliness and losing connection with a loved one, I love the song’s chorus that perfectly demonstrates how we all try our hardest when we’re about to lose a relationship with a loved one:
“Oh don’t leave me on my own / Left me standing all alone / Cut me down to size so I can fit inside / Lies that will divide us both in time.” (source)
Another favorite of mine is the next track on the album, “Unforgiven.” Continuing the feeling of loss and waiting for what is to come next, the song’s lyrics perfectly reflect a scene in which a partner leaves and drives away:
“Drive to the night far as it goes / Away from the daylight into the afterglow / Somewhere unforgiven / Time will wait for you / Down on the street just let the engine run / ‘Til there’s nothing left except the damage done” (source)
The simple and insightful lyrics are very relatable, and help to reflect on those we love. Every time I listen to “Morning Phase,” it helps to treat this album like a concept album, in which the character recalls past memories and looks forward to an unknown future. I like to listen to this album before falling asleep because of the easy-going nature, and like to imagine the story as it evolves through the album.
Beck’s “Morning Phase” is a surprising addition to my iTunes library, and is one of my most repeated albums over the past week. I recommend this album to those who are already fans of Beck, or are fans of bands like City and Colour, Gotye, Lydia, Bon Iver, and other contemporary, folksy sounding bands. Be sure to support this Grammy winner by checking out his website and taking a listen. You can also find him on Twitter and his own webpage. You can also check him out on his two closest tour dates, being the Hangout Music Fest and Boston Calling Music Festival.