Beck, ‘Morning Phase’


Aidin Vaziri | It turns out there was a legitimate reason for Beck’s lack of activity in recent years – he suffered a back injury that severely limited his ability to hold a guitar, let alone perform. That at least explains why his previous album, “Song Reader,” consisted of nothing more than 20 pamphlets of sheet music. Now comes “Morning Phase,” his proper follow-up to 2008’s “Modern Guilt,” but really a record that is the spiritual sequel to 2002’s ballad-heavy “Sea Change.” The songs here are similarly airy and forlorn, with the 43-year-old singer-songwriter using the same backing band to deliver the kind of devastating material he does exceptionally well when his heart is feeling heavy. Even if the source of his soul-searching seems less specific this time around, “Wave” and “Country Down” are particularly gorgeous, and “Blackbird Chain” puts a little twang into the mix, a clear indicator that Beck is again ready to rise and shine.