Beck - Morning Phase: While the title Morning Phase suggests the beginning of a journey, Beck’s 12th studio album is rather the next step in a musical story line that began in 2003 with the release of the critically acclaimed Sea Change. Described as “a companion piece” to the stunning melancholy of Sea Change, Morning Phase is at its core a record of musical diversity, attempting to unite the optimism of 60’s inspired soul harmonies with the drama of orchestra compositions and the understated melancholy of country folk, packaged with a modern alternative twist. This description is best supported by the range between the songs themselves, from the delicacy of the short instrumental opening Cycle to the clamoring synthesized finale of Waking Light. Beck’s soulful harmonies seem to float upon the dainty rhythm behind the first full length song on the album, Morning. Other songs like Blackbird Chain and Heart is a Drum revisit the sincerity and joy of 60’s pop with understated Beatle-esque sounds and lyrics. Beck also revisits country folk with the acoustic guitar centerpiece present on Say Goodbye and Country Down, a fusion of country and pop rhythms complete with a harmonica piece and an opening reminiscent of the Kinks. The true masterpiece of the album is found in the direct center of the album, Waves is a dramatic blend of stunning and suspenseful string orchestrations with the mournful distant lyricism of Beck, echoing through out the song to complete a deeply affecting piece of music. Morning Phase’s singles Blue Moon and Waking Phase round out the album with two modern alternative pop pieces, driven primarily by Beck’s muted yet soulful delivery of the songs’ tempered but optimistic lyrics. Overall, while Morning Phase is not the beginning of Beck’s artist journey, it fully demonstrates his evolution into an artist able to fuse different pieces of historical inspiration into a distinctively modern and fresh album.