Monday, May 8, 2017

Music Review: Big Bad Luv by John Moreland


A true songwriter’s success cannot be calculated with numbers. You can’t determine their legitimacy by the amount of likes they have on Facebook or the number of followers they have on twitter. That’s not to say that a great songwriter can’t have popularity or money because even Miranda Lambert publicly endorses the artist of this discussion. A true songwriter’s success has more to do with their ability to grab a person’s soul with their lyrics, as well as their music (not an easy combination), and not let go! John Moreland is a truly successful songwriter by those standards. His lyrics are full of intuitive one liners that will send every listener on an introspective journey. Enthusiastic pursuers of meaningful art can end their search for 2017 with his new record Big Bad Luv!

Headquartered in the beautiful city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, John Moreland responds to the curtain call with all guns blazing on his opening statement "Sallisaw Blue." He’s in good company with folks like Rick Steff of Lucero manning the keys! It is this reviewer’s opinion the first song hearkens back to the glory days of Tulsa when people like Carl Radle, Leon Russell, and JJ Cale were forging new territory with their laid back twelve bar shuffles in smoky beer joints. The song begins with a countdown and concludes with one of the band mates asking, “It ends right there?” indicating this track was recorded live in studio. Believe me when I say these guys caught lightning in a bottle! If you can listen to this first track without tapping your foot you should surely have your pulse checked.

For the next four songs; "Old Wounds," "Every Kind of Wrong," "Love Is Not An Answer," and "Lies I Chose to Believe" it’s best not to deprive the listener of the opportunity to interpret what these songs mean to your own heart. The delivery is very gentle but the lyrics equally aggressive. Take, for example, the lines, “Love’s a violent word, don’t you forget it.” “Remember what we read about redemption? Well, now I’m paying off my soul.” And, “I used to say I love you, then wonder who I’m talking to.” There’s no lightweight content here!

The album picks back up with "Amen, So Be It." Those who were fortunate enough to hear of John Moreland before this record will love “No Glory in Regret” because it's reminiscent of the solo acoustic days from his humble beginnings. This song is heartfelt and heavy. If you listen to Chris Shiflett’s podcast Walking the Floor you were one of the lucky people to hear him debut this song at the end of the interview. Ain’t We Gold returns to the smoky beer joint vibe with some stellar guitar riff over some incredible piano and harmonica boogies. "Slow Down Easy" and "It Don’t Suit Me (Like Before)" deliver more heavy songwriting content.

As we conclude this review please bear in mind this is a very weak song by song analysis of the actual album in its full glory. In no way would we want to deprive the listener of the experience this album provides. Hopefully, you chose to abandon the review after the first paragraph in favor of listening to the record itself. It is our guarantee here at Story and Grit that Big Bad Luv will surely have you preaching the Gospel of John for years to come!

Bio Matthew Westmoreland (or Matty, as his friends call him) was born in South Carolina, grew up in Georgia, and rambled everywhere in between. Currently located in Mendocino, California with his wife and two sons, he spends his days writing songs and his evenings listening to & reviewing albums for Story & Grit before gigs. Look for his debut album in late 2017 and keep up with him in the meantime at facebook.com/westmorelandsounds

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