The album reflects both this time in transit and the quiet confines of his new home in Montecito Heights. Scenes of performers, audience expectations and the paradoxical confines of a roving individual perpetually caught in a crowd percolate the songs, notably in “The Jester, The Tramp, The Acrobat,” and “Parade.” (Morby calls the latter an elegy of sorts for one of his major influences, Lou Reed). Violent fates, wrestling with destiny and the nature of death creep into songs like “The Ballad of Arlo Jones,” “Bloodsucker” and “Amen”. Even Morby’s more obvious love songs like “All of My Life,” “Drowning” and “Our Moon” are highly bittersweet; the characters in these songs seem to never quite find each other, but perhaps they find themselves.
As with Harlem River, Still Life is once again produced by Rob Barbato (Cass McCombs, Darker My Love) who adds his signature guitar and bass playing to the album. The album was engineered and mixed by Drew Fischer, who also worked on Harlem River and the Babies second full length album Our House on the Hill and recorded between March and June of 2014 at Barbato and Fischers new Burbank Recording Studio, Comp’ny.
Multi-instrumentalist Will Canzoneri (Cate Le Bon, Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt), who also performed live with Morby on previous tours and who was a contributor on Harlem River, contributes piano and organ to the album. The album also features a prominent horn section on “Parade” and “Amen”.
While Morby called his solo debut Harlem River a love letter to New York City, the city hasn’t faded as a muse (readily evident in the eerie twisting journey of “Dancer”). This makes sense. Morby says he always interpreted the “land of misfit toys” in the album’s namesake piece to be that of New York.