Kevin​ Morby has mastered the 'Lay Lady Lay' croon of Dylan, blending Lou Reed's defiant atonality and self-regarding street smarts and a faintly annoying commitment to finding the tritest rhyming couplets available. City Music aims to be effortless - a "listless wanderlust" is how his press notes describe it – and for once the artist’s own assessment is absolutely on the money. The record is indeed an aimless slog.

Formerly bass player with Woods and frontman for his own project The Babies, Morby writes and releases albums at the speed most people send emails, always a difficult proposition when you're also trying to maintain a level of quality control. Woods can be truly inspired; from their first albums you can read a dizzying progress from lo-fi psych folk through to startlingly progressive pop. The Babies have their own ballsy charm. Strip away the genius and the guts and what is left to lift you up? Unfortunately, Morby's latest effort seems to purposefully aim for the very middlest of the road.

There is a thin scattering of inspiration here. 'Cry Baby' and 'Pearly Gates' ramp up the drama somewhat, but the pervading feeling is of insouciance. So much of the record feels inessential, from the Ramones-worshipping '1,2,3,4' to the title track; the lightweight Television rip-off 'City Music' does nothing to propel the record into more innovative territory, only serving to remind the listener of far better albums.

Last year's Singing Saw set the blueprint, albeit a little more enjoyably. That record built a pretty, folksy kind of stage set for Morby's monologue. While no classic in itself, it was a sweet cul-de-sac with some lovingly engineered moments. City Music doesn't click in anything like the same way. Instead we get 'Night Time', a close approximation of the previous album's tenderest moments; it's not actually frustrating in the way much of the rest of the album can be, but the sense of complacency remains. It feels tossed off. The bluesy chorus wants to be The Basement Tapes. It isn't.

And that voice; like Droopy dog singing 'Perfect Day'. The most arresting moment comes when Morby allows someone else to back him up, a choir wrenching 'Pearly Gates' towards the upper echelons. All of a sudden, with the second to last song, I'm paying attention.

Morby can do so much better. It’s heartening to see an artist have so much faith in their ability to bang out a high quality product whenever they sit down to record. In this case, the confidence is misplaced.