It felt strange to see Kyle Morton playing solo—a feeling emphasized by the grandeur of the Old Church, where he performed on Jan. 6. With its towering ceilings and colossal pipe organ, it lent a sense of insignificance one usually does not associate with the talented Typhoon frontman, a musician typically buried onstage in a sea of fellow musicians.
But as he played from his debut solo record, What Will Destroy You, things began to fall into place. While Morton has been hard at work in the Portland music scene for over a decade, this show felt like birth of a brand new act. Aside from a few times he brought others onstage, there was no opulent orchestral rock to hide behind or blend in with. Despite having primarily just an acoustic guitar and piano as accompaniment, he managed to thoroughly captivate the sold-out crowd.
His most intimate release yet begged for a sacred and intimate space, and the Old Church afforded him that. His rich vocals consumed every square foot of the 134-year-old space, while the creaking pews added eerie texture to his stripped-down material. The simplicity of "My Little Darling Knows My Nature" and "Water Torture" induced shivers. The rolling, wave-like "Survivalist Fantasy" enveloped the room like a blanket of warm steam, while more playful pieces like "Innuendos" offered soothing rays of light. It was the kind of chilling folk that is both accessible in its minimalism yet otherworldly in its pristine execution.
Morton couldn't resist pulling out a few bare-bones renditions of songs from Typhoon's last album, White Lighter. But overall, the night belonged to his newfound, bashful yet equally powerful sound.
All photos by Thomas Teal.