Steely Dan principal Donald Fagen finds love in an airport security line, mulls the ramifications of a ghostly feline, chats up the late Ray Charles and ruminates on aging and death on “Morph the Cat,” his first solo album in 13 years. The nine-track set is due early next year via Reprise.
Fagen is backed on the set by such familiar Steely Dan sidemen as drummer Keith Carlock, guitarists Wayne Krantz, Jon Herington and Hugh McCracken, clarinetist Lawrence Feldman, pianist Ted Baker and saxophonist Walt Weiskopf, among others.
As usual, the album is highlighted by the unique blend of Fagen’s imaginative storytelling and the groove-oriented, backing vocal-laden pop for which Steely Dan is renowned.
He woos an airport security screener on “Security Joan” (“Girl you won’t find my name on your list / Honey you know I ain’t no terrorist”), talks shop with Charles on “What I Do” (“He says, ‘Don don’t despair — just take some time / You find your bad self — you’re gonna do just fine'”) and imagines a “thuggish cult” taking over the U.S. government on “Mary Shut the Garden Door” (“So if you ever see an automaton in a midprice luxury car / Better roll the sidewalks up, switch on your lucky star”).
“Morph the Cat” is the follow-up to 1993’s “Kamakiriad,” which debuted at No. 10 on The Billboard 200. Plans are in the works to release a boxed set featuring that set, “Morph the Cat” and Fagen’s 1981 solo debut, “The Nightfly.”
Here is the track list for “Morph the Cat”:
“Morph the Cat”
“What I Do”
“The Great Pagoda of Funn”
“The Night Belongs To Mona”
“Mary Shut the Garden Door”
“Morph the Cat” (Reprise)