Going in blind with Keith Morris & the Crooked Numbers’ Psychopaths & Sycophants, this writer could’ve sworn he was going to be taken on an idiosyncratic death metal journey with a title such edge. What Morris and his crew have to offer isn’t lacking in any sharp-witted spirit, but it is actually a collection of multifarious, impassioned Americana music featuring lush production and a political message at the forefront. Some might say Morris is using his powers as a captivating folk storyteller to tell the unfortunate story of the current American administration as well as any old-school bard could, evoking an image similar to that of Dylan or Cohen with a rock-ready rhythm and attitude.
Unlike more clinical efforts to highlight political disdain, Morris has an uncanny knack for stoking the fires of what feels far more like a spotlight on human rights injustices than an action against any singular individual. It feels like a Trump protest, sure, but more in-line with Conor Oberst’s ubiquitous “When the President Talks to God” in how it can be enveloped around just about any wrongdoing in any time period despite its politically forked tongue.
Musically, the album has its fair share of changes throughout its ebb and flow to keep listeners intrigued in this regard, too. On the overall, its Americana near its purest state, fusing rock’n’roll and folk to make an urgent collection of songs that are very much in-the-now. Although, much like Ike Reilly before him, the sheer attitude that Morris envelopes these songs in is enough to make them feel even more timeless than they would be in the hands of others.