Kendra Morris' sophomore full-length album, 2013's Mockingbird, finds the N.Y.C.-based singer/songwriter covering songs from across the pop and soul spectrum. Mockingbird follows up Morris' acclaimed debut of all-original material, 2012's Banshee. With production and arrangements from guitarist and Morris bandmate Jeremy Page, Mockingbird is both a loving homage to the artists who helped shape Morris' sound as well as a creative reinvention of their songs. Included here are songs by David Bowie, Chris Isaak, Dionne Warwick, Soundgarden, and others. While many of the tracks on Mockingbird, like Bowie's "Space Oddity" and Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," reveal a reverence for the sound of the original recordings, others, like Isaak's "Wicked Game" and Metallica's "Ride the Lightning," move left of center of the source material and allow Morris to delve deep into her own bluesy, often psychedelic-tinged style. To these ends, she morphs Radiohead's "Karma Police" into a sultry, Dusty Springfield-esque slow jam, re-imagines the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" as a funky, '70s blaxploitation-style anthem, and turns Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" into an expansive, acid-soaked blues-rock ballad. Although die-hard Morris fans may wish she had included some original material here, one gets the sense that Morris has picked songs she has loved and sung along with for years, and her passion for this material is evident in the sound of her resonant vocal chops. Overall, Mockingbird picks up on the swaggering, quirky, homemade soul vibe that made Banshee such a delight, and grounds Morris' own sound in a larger pop tradition.
by Matt Collar
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