Walt Whitman all but invented the American lyric, but does that sort of national lyricism -- the kind that speaks to and through the soul of a place -- still exist?
For Kevin Morby, it just might.
With his new album, "City Music," Morby devotes himself to an American metropolitan geography, crafting "a mix-tape, a fever dream, a love letter dedicated to those cities that I cannot get rid of, to those cities that are all inside of me," according to him.
For Morby, with whom I spoke over the phone a month ago, traveling affords him the opportunity to reflect on ever-changing landscapes.
"I look at the world as this big stage. Everything is this big backdrop," he said.
While this might sound rather old world and all, Morby proves he is decidedly more Whitman than Shakespeare as he lazily traces the jagged edges of skyscrapers and the dirty streets of Manhattan in the '70s.
"People are constantly saying rock & roll is dying or poetry in music is dying. I don’t necessarily think it’s true. There are smart artists in every genre.... People will never fully deny or turn their back on intellectualism," he said with that quintessential Whitman-esque optimism.
"All of my music can’t help but be American," Morby added.
Joining other "smart artists" like Bill Callahan and Alex Cameron, the former Woods bassist turned solo artist is giving poetry back to rock & roll and doing so with the voices of American cities singing through him.