Beck releases ‘Morning Phase’

In his first record since 2008, California’s own Beck released “Morning Phase” on Capitol Records. With his earlier work heavily rooted in the anti-folk movement, “Morning Phase” sees a shift in his production.

The record takes heavy influence from Americana and bluegrass songwriting and craft. Compositionally, the album is a mellow collective of thirteen well-executed, alternative folk tracks.

Many of the tracks are rooted around the chord structure of the acoustic guitar, featuring traditional instruments such as the harp and the mandolin. Tracks such as “Cycle,” “Phase,” and “Wave” however see a more expansive, orchestral arrangement. In contrast to his more electronic albums, Beck makes absolutely no use of sampled tracks which detracts from the often collage-esque soundscape he has built upon.

“Morning Phase” can easily be interpreted as a parallel or even a companion to his 2002 record, “Sea Change” which also featured a more acoustic arrangement in a time period where his career was taking a more electric/digital based sound. Many of the same musicians and personnel from the recording of “Sea Change” were also featured on this record, as well as, the album art both featuring a headshot of Beck.

Recently, he performed two tracks on Saturday Night Live, the folksy “Blue Moon” and “Wave” featuring an expansive arrangement of strings and backing vocals on both songs provided by Josh Tillman of Father John Misty. Currently, Beck has three live performances scheduled for 2014, two being dates at Coachella and Edgefest. Many of the singles Beck released between 2012-2013 such as the highly acclaimed “I Won’t Be Long,” “Defriended,” and “I Just Started Hating Some People Today/Blue Randy” were released as stand-alone pieces and not featured on the record. Some tracks were produced under Jack White’s Third Man Records label and Beck’s own FONOGRAF label.