Morph the Cat
Donald Fagen has said that his solo work is guy-gets-girl, whereas Steely Dan is guy-doesn’t-get-girl. That mostly holds true on Morph the Cat, Fagen’s first solo album in 13 years and the final installment of a quasi-trilogy that began with The Nightfly and continued with Kamakiriad. It’s more personal than cynical, coming from Fagen himself instead of the detached Steely Dan persona. And, dare I say, it’s funkier. As he’s aged, Fagen’s grown more assured as a player and as a vocalist, and he has the songwriting chops and the band to back him up. The title track (which is indeed about a flying cat); “Brite Nitegown,” a tale of a dream informed by W.C. Fields; and “Mary Shut the Garden Door” are standouts. You can’t do better for great musicianship. There’s real sonic quality here.