Record Of The Week # 18

May 12, 2017

John Moreland – Big Bad Luv

John Moreland’s fourth album Big Bad Luv is the kind of slow burner that even on first listen you know contains a few years of pleasure up the road as you continue to discover further delight in the attitude, melodies, voice and not least the profound and expressive sentiments.

The music is crafted with Tchad Blake, who’s produced the Black Keys, U2, Bonnie Raitt and The Artic Monkeys (to barely scratch the surface), on the controls. The sound is understated rock with a blues tinge and so definitely Americana. On his web site they reference The Band and some of that quality and vibe is to be found not least with the organ on, maybe the album highlight, “Love Is Not An Answer”. It is the strong and handsome yet whiskey mellowed tones that captivate as he interprets his world-weary observations. This at least is my take on the verse content but Moreland himself says:

“At the very least my songs have been a way to exorcise negative feelings so that I can move on. And hopefully they provide that same experience to listeners”

‘Lies I Chose To Believe’ hooks you with a great melody but what an opening line:

                                                 “I’ve gone and lost my faith in photographs

                                                 Curse those martyrs that mark my past”

We’re in the presence of a poet as well as a tunesmith and no wonder Jason Isbell name checks this new album on Twitter. “Sallisaw Blue” starts apace and references Oklahoma, his current domicile as well as explains where the Big Bad Luv reference comes from (a neon sign!). A great start with a rolling gait before we take it down to “Old Wounds”… ‘don’t forget to love me in damnation’ may give you a clue as to the song content if the title didn’t. The lighter arrangement of “Every Kind Of Wrong” is acoustic with occasional tasteful slide. “No Glory In Regret” sees Moreland accompany himself also on acoustic guitar and he sings:

                                             “God’s been making deals

                                             While we’re down here spinning our wheels

                                             And using up our little share of luck”

Whilst all eleven of the tracks engage and the album certainly remains strong for the duration the record finishes with “Latchkey Kid”. This beautifully reflects on his previous life as that child with the key but lately:

                                           “And when I look into the mirror, now I see
                                            A man I never knew that I could be”

A real pleasure

(Lastly, this is definitely the album sleeve of the year so far. Love it and maybe I’ll search out the vinyl!)

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