Kendra Morris is a Florida-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-disciplinary artist. As a singer/songwriter and musician, Morris can trace the origins of her music career to discovering the joys of multi-tracking and harmonizing with herself on a karaoke machine in the closet of her childhood home. She then went on to play in cover bands in her home state before relocating to New York with her band, which played her original material. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Around the same time, Morris was one of my bartenders at The Library Bar on Avenue A in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For a long time, they had one of the best jukeboxes in the city. And one of the best bar mascots ever — Megasus. Megasus forever and ever in my heart. So, as you can imagine, it’s a bit of a trip to be writing about someone, who used to serve me copious amounts of Guinness every weekend for the better part of about 18 months or so.)
Morris’ first band split up and she dealt with the aftermath by writing material alone on an 8-track in her closet. Sometime after, she met longtime collaborator and producer Jeremy Page and signed to Wax Poetics, who released her full-length debut, 2012’s Banshee.
Morris self-released 2016’s Babble. Then she went on to collaborate with the likes of DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, MF DOOM, Czarface, Ghostface Killah, Dennis Coffey and Dave Sitek among others. And while being a grizzled, New York scene vet, Morris’ work generally embodies a broader sense of American culture, drawing from a wide array of influences across music and film dating back to the mid 20th Century.
The Florida-born, New York-based artist’s long-awaited sophomore album Nine Lives is slated for a February 18, 2022 release through Karma Chief Records. While being her first full-length album in a decade, the album represents a major turning point in her life both professional and personally: The album for her heralds the beginning of a new chapter; an evolution to the next level of adulthood; and the first on her new label. Interestingly, Nine Lives‘ material reportedly encapsulates moments from what could easily be nine lifetimes lived over a chronological time period — or nine lives lived simultaneously in parallel and convergent realities in the multiverse.
Last month, I wrote about “Penny Pincher,” a slow-burning ballad about reaching the end of the road in a relationship, filled regret, heartache, acceptance and steely determination to boldly go forward with your life. Album title track “Nine Lives” is a strutting, hook-driven bit of soul pop jam centered around Morris’ sultry vocals, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling guitar, and glistening Rhodes arpeggios that sounds as though it could have been released between 1992-1996 or so.
Directed by Sarai Mari, the recently released video is a colorful fever dream that follows several different colored versions of Morris going about her day getting killed throughout various parts of the city. “‘Nine Lives; the song envelopes the concept of the album itself in that i believe we live multiple lifetimes in one . . .,”Morris explains in press notes. “When thinking about a visual for the song, I kept seeing these lives and versions of ourselves as represented in colors . . . how we can peel off each one and try on another.. sometimes we have to die a little to find ourselves again.”
Morris is playing a headlining set tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.