Full Review: Big Bad Luv from John Moreland

May 3, 2017 | By

New music from John Moreland is something to be anticipated, as it will become something to be treasured.

It’s been two years since we were gifted with the album High On Tulsa Heat, and I have had the privilege of seeing John perform twice in that period. The songs have become good friends, and although they may fall out of the regular rotation from time to time, it is always a pleasure to return, and find them not only standing the test of time, but even finding new meaning with it.

I heard about “Big Bad Luv”, the new album from Moreland, a couple of months ago and was immediately excited to see where he would take us with the new songs.

Pre-release publicity indicated that this would be a more fully produced album, with full band arrangements for most of the songs. Rumours of change, for a favourite artist, can be a two edged blade, with eager anticipation and worry about a bridge too far competing in one’s imagination.

Safe to say that any worries were misplaced, and the bigger, more expansive arrangements do nothing but add fullness to what has always been at the heart of John Moreland’s music … the words and the phrases, the verses and choruses of a gifted songwriter,

There are not many artists who can release an album of new material where not only is every song a fully realized piece of writing, but within each song, tiny gems can be found in phrases and verses which stand alone, spilling meaning from each word.

John Moreland has produced just such a record with Big Band Luv, and I want to offer a few examples of these vignettes within the stories of the songs.

From “Old Wounds”, a song which draws metaphor from the act of songwriting:

“So don’t forget to love me in damnation

For the living I have earned on love gone wrong

And we’ll open up old wounds in celebration

If we don’t bleed it don’t feel like a song.”

From “Love is Not An Answer”, a title rich in implication in and of itself:

“But love is not an answer

And I don’t need an answer, I need you”

From “Slow Down Easy”:

“We were born homesick

The plot was understood”

And from the closing track on the record, “Latchkey Kid”, a single line, which somehow typifies Moreland`s view of his world:

“Sometimes life plays like a series of exams.”

For those who have come to know the words and music of John Moreland, this record will be a much more than welcome addition. For anyone newly discovering John, it should inspire a search though the previous records.

The album drops on Friday, May 5, and it will be the Feature Album of the Week on FolkNRoots Radio, debuting with a full play through at 4 pm eastern time on Saturday, May 6, right after the new edition of Twenty Eight Tunes.

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Category: Record Reviews

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