When Kendra Morris released Nine Lives at the beginning of 2022, it was the culmination of more than ten years of creative partnership with producer and songwriter Jeremy Page. The psych-soul opus, Morris’s first for Colemine imprint Karma Chief Records, was one of the best albums of the year and kicked off a flurry of activity for Morris, including a tour (with label-mates Monophonics and GA20) and an expanded reissue of her excellent Babble EP from 2016. It’s a pleasant surprise, then, that Morris is already back with her follow-up to Nine Lives, an 11-song collection called I Am What I’m Waiting For.
The album title is an apt one, since the new record finds Morris striking out in new directions and embracing her own creative vision. This time around she’s teamed up with Torbitt Schwartz (AKA Little Shalimar) to explore new musical territory. Schwartz’s production doesn’t feel drastically different than Morris’s previous work, but there are new sonic textures and stylistic touchstones throughout the album. The album is full of variety from track to track, something that makes it stand out in her discography.
Where Nine Lives, Babble, and Morris’s earlier albums blended classic 70s soul, hip-hop-influenced grooves, and psychedelic vibes, IAWIWF ventures a little further afield. There are still plenty of nods to those styles, but there are also new elements: some 60s girl group and pop sounds here (“Dominoes”), a bit of 80s R&B there (“Still Spinning,” “One Last Joyride”), along with some more stripped-down tracks that focus on Morris’s understated guitar playing. The opening track, “When I Go To Space,” is also something of an outlier, a quiet minor-key song with gentle piano chords and a catchy melody. With every subsequent track, you get the impression you’re glimpsing different aspects of Morris’s personality.
In some ways I Am What I’m Waiting For feels like a transitional album—like Morris is turning the page and finding out where she wants to go next. In that sense it doesn’t hang together as an album as well as some of her earlier work. That said, every track has something to offer and hints at a lot of new directions she could continue to explore. The best tracks here are not only every bit as good as those on Nine Lives, they showcase Morris’s growth as a songwriter and artist. Her willingness to try new things is exciting and makes it clear that she’s got plenty of creativity left in the tank. And if her current pace is anything to go by, we won’t have long to wait to see where she goes next.
“When I Go To Space” / “Dominoes” / “Special”
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KENDRA MORRIS REVIEW HISTORY
Nine Lives (2022)