Album: Kyle Morgan – Younger at Most Everything review

by Phil Scarisbrick

Visceral imagery takes us through the bleached Polaroid reflections of Kyle Morgan’s life, as he makes sense of what brought him to where we find him today

The ‘nature vs nurture’ conflict is a dichotomy that has been mused upon ad hominem. It has led many artists to reflect on their upbringing and formative years through their music, as they grapple with what has formed their life to that point – and how it has shaped the person that they are. On Younger At Most Everything, Pennsylvania-born, Queens, NY, resident, Kyle Morgan, takes stock of his journey through the congregational interactions that formed what he thought it meant to be human as a child, through a troubled, alcohol-drenched adolescence to becoming the prolific singer-songwriter he is today.

To simplify it into such terms may be doing a disservice to the journey that Morgan has been on, and these complexities start to reveal themselves right from the opening track. And You creeps in with elegant strings fading into a gently picked guitar. As the track builds, Morgan sings of ‘After school, Bible study, choirs in rehearsal,’ to point to his childhood, and that of many brought up in a house of faith. The visceral imagery of ‘Jolly rancher wrappers’ and a ‘denim bedspread that she made from old jeans, into a patchwork of dreams’ transport you into Morgan’s memories. This loving tribute to the father he lost in 2020 packs so much in – even in its more than six minute length – that it will take repeated listens to really peel back all the layers.

Sonically, the record feels like it traverses the full American songbook of the 20th Century – from the trad folk and country of Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams, through to modern writers like Teddy Thompson and Anaïs Mitchell – it not only travels through Morgan’s life but that of modern America too.

Tara comes to life as another finger-picked acoustic track before slide guitar, light percussion and backing vocal harmonies deliver a wonderfully subtle dynamic leap. Do You Still Have Some Fight In You feels darker than a lot of what comes before, and seems to be as much a pep talk focused inwards as much as outwards. Ransom the Captive Heart – like And You – is bursting at the seams despite its near seven minute length, and will have you smashing that repeat button to take another peek.

Perhaps the most beautiful moment lies in the midst of the second half of the record. Broken Love is imbued in the stoicism that it takes to pull yourself out of the mire, while recognising that not everything has to be perfect. ‘A broken love is better than no love at all,’ sings Morgan – a line that sums up this wonderful record. His way with words sketches the images he portrays into your mind’s eye. It makes it easy just to sit back, put your headphones on, shut your eyes, and live in this world for a little while.

Focusing on the flickers of light in the darkest of places, this is an album that will be treasured by all who experience it.

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