Concert preview: Beck brings it back to basics on the gorgeous Morning Phase

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From the June 19, 2014 edition

The great shape-shifter — he’s been the gutbucket blues troubadour, the trashcan eclectic and the falsetto-wielding soul man — strips away the veneer on his most recent album, Morning Phase, a pretty, orchestral-folk effort that doubles as a spiritual cousin to 2002’s similarly bruised Sea Change.

Where that album appeared to be born of some deep, personal tragedy (songs like “Guess I’m Doing Fine” and “Lonesome Tears” are among the most heartbroken and shattered in his deep catalog), the songs here feel more universally pained, as though Beck had surveyed a decade worth of news headlines and begun questioning mankind’s direction as a whole. “Looked up this morning … mountains are falling,” he sings on the sleep-deprived “Morning.” “Can we start it all over again?”

There’s an impressionistic feel to Beck’s words that carries over into the gorgeous musical backdrops, and throughout it sounds as though he’s painting in bright watercolors, allowing textures to bleed dreamily together. The effect is hypnotizing, and it should sound lovely in the LC’s outdoor setting.

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger opens the show.

Peter Hapak photo