Lullabies aren’t just for children. Older people like to be tucked in with kind words and sweet melodies, too. A pleasant song before sleeping does wonders to chase away the fears that proliferate after dark. Then there are the lullabies that aren’t quite so benign: the bedtime stories told by straying lovers to fool their suspicious partners. Morgan Taylor is a young singer, but she’s seen lullabyes from all sides. She’s wise to their intricacies, and on her debut single, she’s given fans of contemporary R&B and soul a track suitable for any time of the night.
Superficially, Taylor’s “Lullabye” is soothing. The St. Louis singer has a voice like a caress: she possesses a friendly, conversational delivery register and an upper register designed for drama. She can take listeners places few singers dare to go; she can even rock you to sleep. Yet this song has a sting – “Lullabye” is a kiss-off to a misbehaving boyfriend, and that gentle soprano voice only partially disguises her scorn. It’s a testament to her talent that she can make some stinging lyrics feel as sweet and delicate as a rose petal. That’s a characteristic that only the best R&B singers have, and “Lullabye” is the sound of the arrival of a significant talent.
The record also situates her in a long tradition of excellent music from her hometown. Urban Missouri has always been a crossroads of styles, and the story of the blues, jazz, and R&B can’t be told without engaging with St. Louis’s traditions. Pointedly, director MJ Furillo includes one of the city’s many statues to its musical greats in the narrative clip for “Lullabye.” We’re shown Morgan Taylor, supported by her friends, as she confronts a cheating boyfriend. But we’re also treated to plenty of wide-angle views of St. Louis – a unique-looking town that doesn’t always get the respect it deserves.
Furillo’s clip starts at Mother’s Fish, a long-standing popular St. Louis landmark restaurant. That’s where Morgan Taylor is when she gets the call about her duplicitous boyfriend – and before long, she’s in her car with a determined look on her face, headed to University Park and the Delmar Loop. The “Loop,” as locals call it, is one of America’s great shopping streets, and it’s right there, under the awning of a vintage movie theater, where she catches her man in the act.