Morph The Cat
, the eagerly-anticipated new solo album from Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen, has been set for a UK release of Monday 6th March via Reprise Records (North American release is Tuesday 7th March).
Featuring nine new songs written and arranged by Fagen, Morph The Cat is the multi-Grammy winning artist's first solo album since 1993's Kamakiriad and the final installment in a musical trilogy that originally began with the release of The Nightfly in 1982.
Written and arranged by Fagen with engineering assistance courtesy of Elliot Scheiner (a regular Steely Dan collaborator who has also worked with bands as varied at The Eagles and Foo Fighters). The Nightfly is sort of looking from the standpoint of youth," Fagen explains. Kamakiriad would be more about midlife. This new one is about endings, really."
Morph The Cat selections include the title track and the debut single H Gang." Also featured are What I Do," Brite Nightgown," The Great Pagoda Of Funn," Security Joan," The Night Belongs To Mona," Mary Shut The Garden Door" and a reprise of Morph The Cat." The album will be made available as both a CD and a CD/DVD in high-resolution audio and 5.1 Surround Sound.
Blending jazz, soul and a plethora of other musical influences with extended grooves and ever changing musical textures, Morph The Cat has already been compared to the Steely Dan classic Aja.
I like it when songs develop in some way and four minutes usually isn't enough time for something to develop musically", says Fagen. I'm still plugged into the Duke Ellington model, something akin to classical music, where you start with something, you develop a little bit and stick with it. And when you get a groove going, time flies."
Built around extended, richly textured jazz, soul and rock grooves, the themes of Morph The Cat range from impending mortality and assorted apocalyptic scenarios to homeland security and the ghost of Ray Charles. I don't think you can escape the environment we live in now," Fagen remarks on his songwriting strategy. If Steely Dan has survived--and I have survived as a solo artist--it's partly because we've reflected what's going on around us."
Fagen's renowned lyrical darkness once more comes to the fore throughout Morph The Cat. The hint of alien attack in Mary Shut The Gate" was written after the Republican convention hit Manhattan. I'd much rather be fighting aliens, although there are some similarities", he says.
Morph The Cat was recorded in New York City and Kauai, Hawaii. The album features an extraordinary line-up of backing musicians, many of who have previously worked with Fagen and his Steely Dan partner Walter Becker on stage and in the studio. Included are drummer Keith Carlock, bassist Freddie Washington and guitarists Hugh McCracken, Jon Herington and Wayne Krantz. Fagen performs lead and backing vocals and plays keyboards.
Steely Dan's most recent studio album Everything Must Go was released in 2003 on Reprise Records.