On his third album, and first for Dead Oceans, Morby worked with producer Sam Cohen (of Yellowbirds) to expand his sound a little, while still staying true to the honest approach he'd almost perfected already. The duo surround Morby's trenchant songs with a rich tapestry of sound, adding keyboards, electronic squiggles, mariachi horns, backing vocals, and even singing saws to the mix. They actually met while playing in a Band tribute band and the influence certainly comes through in the various forms of Americana they cycle through on the album. The full-to-the-breaking-point arrangements of some of the songs, like "I Have Been to the Mountain" and "Dorothy" (both of which feature some first-rate fuzz bass work by Cohen), definitely capture the rollicking, jolly feel of the Band they exuded at their best. The keen eye given to sound throughout helps the quieter tracks too, with the buzzing keyboards and blown-out guitar tones of the title track giving the hushed ballad an expansive range, which is held down solidly by Morby's strong vocals. He's the rock-solid center of all the songs, whether they're fully arranged or sparsely decorated. His lyrics don't tell stories as much as they capture moments or explore small feelings, something the elegiac, expansive arrangements really help bring to life. While Morby's last two records were good (sometimes even great), working with Cohen turned out to be a very wise decision that added an extra dimension to his work. The match of songs and sounds on Singing Saw delivers on all the promise of his earlier records, while firmly establishing Morby as one of the best singer/songwriters going.
-- All Music