R.B. Morris, Spies, Lies, and Burning Eyes (Rich Mountain Bound)
When you wait 10 years between albums, you set yourself up for some lofty expectations. R.B. Morris’ follow-up to his last album Zeke and the Wheel, from 1999, has been perpetually coming soon for years. Now that it’s here, it has a decade of anticipation to live up to. Spies, Lies, and Burning Eyes has some of the best material Morris has ever recorded—“Spy in My Brain” is the fiercest thing he’s ever laid down, and the seven-minute-long “Plato’s Perfect World” is a woozy country stumble through Highway 61 territory. Even Morris’ meandering, Beat-inspired spoken-word wanderings (“Father Fisheye,” “Vertical Horizons”) are set to rapturously moody or starkly dissonant guitar arrangements that show off the brilliant interplay between Hector Qirko and Kenny Vaughn. It’s the best-sounding record of Morris’ career, too, a notable accomplishment since Morris financed its production himself. That independence from commercial demands seems to have freed Morris up to make something looser, weirder, and more personal than his previous records, a move that’s easily worth the wait.