It might just be the hippest USPS homage yet: “U.S. Mail,” a single by indie rock musician Kevin Morby.
The 32-year-old singer-songwriter released the standalone track in the fall as a follow-up to his latest album, “Sundowner.”
Morby, who has weathered the coronavirus pandemic from his home in Kansas City, KS, hoped to include “U.S. Mail” on “Sundowner,” but with limited access to a normally operating recording studio last year, he held it back.
When it came out, the song — about a mother and daughter relying on the Postal Service to stay connected during an inpatient drug rehab stay, where electronic communication between them is restricted — had a stripped-down production vibe that reflected Morby’s simpler resources at home.
He considers “U.S. Mail” not just a bonus for his fans, but also a way to acknowledge the critical role USPS has played in the pandemic.
“It’s an ode to the Postal Service during challenging times,” said Morby, whose solo career dates back to 2013 over the course of six studio albums.
He expresses a deep affinity for USPS, pointing out that the artwork for “U.S. Mail” doesn’t emphasize his website or social media accounts, but his preferred way to hear from fans: his PO Box.
“Please feel free to write me a letter and continue sending mail to your loved ones to support the USPS,” Morby said in a news release when “U.S. Mail” dropped in October. “Its service has been integral to my career and I have been passionate about both sending and receiving physical mail since I was a child. It is simply one of my favorite things.”
In the absence of live shows over the past year, Morby has yearned for a sense of authentic community with his fans, and the Postal Service has delivered.
“Instagram is flattering and nice, but getting letters and postcards in the mail is poetic,” he said. “I feel the love in it, when people take the time to write and go to the Post Office.”
It’s a habit of his own that formed during his teenage years as a fan in the indie scene, early in the digital era, when he would attend shows, meet the bands and “always ask for their addresses.”
“It’s a way of communicating I loved,” said Morby, who also eagerly ordered indie artists’ merchandise from magazines and delighted in its delivery. “Mail has always been comforting for me.”
Even in today’s streaming-dominated entertainment environment, indie musicians and fans have been key to the resurgence of vinyl records, which often reach stores and residences via the Postal Service.
“It’s an event to get something in the mail,” Morby said, especially during the pandemic, with its accompanying feelings of isolation. “I see people loving physical things in their homes.”
To him, that’s made letter carriers something more than essential:
“They’re guardian angels in blue uniforms. I’ve always thought if I weren’t in music, I’d be a mailman.”
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