Nick Bollinger reviews a set of country songs about passion's pitfalls from John Moreland.
Love’s a violent word, don’t you forget it”, he cautions in a song that cleaves to his favourite theme: passion and its pitfalls. It’s embedded in the title of this latest album, Big Bad Luv. And yet if there’s been any sort of shift in Moreland’s writing, it has been away from the out and out miserable-ism of his early self-released albums, towards a more philosophical acceptance of love’s vagaries, which he sums up in the riddle of a song he calls ‘Love Is Not An Answer’.
There might not be anything all that new in Moreland’s music, but it is very, very well done. His lyrics feel crafted yet not clichéd. And around his un-pretty, let-the-rough-side-drag singing, there’s some superb playing, especially from multi-instrumentalist John Calvin Abney and dobro player Jared Tyler, who take their guitars into Grateful Dead territory on a track like 'Every Kind Of Wrong'. In a genre that is often predictable, that’s a nicely unpredictable place to be.
Songs featured: Sallisaw Blues, Old Wounds, Love Is not an Answer, Every Kind Of Wrong.
Big Bad Luv by John Moreland is available on 4AD Records.