In October 2020, while still in lockdown, musician Kevin Morby drove his truck from Kansas City to downtown Memphis, Tennessee to live and work on the writing of what would become his 7th full-length album, This Is A Photograph. With the virus in its second surge he let the natural world as well as the life and times of various American icons be his guide to Memphis and other surrounding areas of the south. He found solace in rivers, highways, zoos, mausoleums, birds, cemeteries, abandoned buildings, his room at the Peabody hotel and taking photos with his Pentax pc35 during this complicated moment in time.
We were honored to host his solo photo show exhibition, This Is A Photograph Of Memphis, which showcases these captured moments of inspiration at the Gallery at Ace Brooklyn the week of his album’s release, along with a surprise pop-up show in the garden which also featured his partner, Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee).
Kevin shares 5 points of inspiration that infused his songwriting on This Is A Photograph:
JEFF BUCKLEY – I found myself very interested in, for the first time, Jeff Buckley’s life and career. I wrote the bulk of my album while temporarily living in Memphis, where Buckley tragically passed away in 1997. I spent a lot of my days revisiting his old haunts and following the bread crumb trail of his last days.
THE PEABODY HOTEL – I lived out of the Peabody Hotel in Downtown Memphis for a few week period during quarantine in 2020. It’s a very elaborate and very southern hotel complete with a duck procession through the lobby every morning and evening. It was a bizarre time to be holed up in such a hotel, but I found it a very inspiring place to work.
OLD FAMILY PHOTOS – During the writing of this album I happened upon dozens, if not hundreds, of old family photographs that I became enamored in. Photos of my parents, or their parents, or their parents’ parents just figuring it out and trying to make something of their dreams. I, almost more than anything else, find it fascinating how good of a photographer everyone used to be whether they meant to be or not.
TAKING PICTURES – After unearthing all these old family photographs I found it important to document my own life in a similar fashion. I’ve taken photos for years, but I tried to have my camera on me almost all of the time. Arming yourself with a camera often feels like holding the keys to the universe. Everything suddenly feels like an adventure and you end up getting into situations or going places you never would have otherwise.
MEMPHIS, TN – Memphis was perhaps my ultimate muse for this album. It is a city that honors its past in a very important and very inspiring way. During the quarantine I found the present moment terrifying and very uninspiring. But Memphis acted as this window into the past that I found fascinating and often inspiring. Though the past, at any moment in history, isn’t without its own complications, it felt like a safe place for me to explore given the unprecedented times we were living in.
Ace Hotel New York | August 19, 2021
Last month in the Gallery, Ace Hotel New York welcomed work from 60+ artists for "OURS" — a group show by and for New York City.