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Folk Singer

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Album Review

Nathan Moore spent the last 15 years or so fronting various folk-rock, psychedelic, and anti-folk bands like the cryptically named TheMuseMeant and Surprize Me Mr. Davis. He's won many fans and impressed critics with the power of his original songs, and in 2007 he started appearing solo, just guitar and harmonica, calling himself a folksinger. Moore is a folksinger in the old-fashioned sense of the word, a troubadour with plenty to say about the commonplace experiences that bind humanity together. Moore's low tenor has a warm friendly tone, almost conversational, the kind of less-is-more approach that marks a great vocal stylist. His guitar playing is excellent, but the solos he inserts into the arrangements are short and subtle; they never call attention to themselves. The music on Folk Singer is given a subtle mix, a perfect blend of understated vocals and subtle playing that leaves the attention on Moore's affable singing and the sparkling, poetic lyrics. There are only eight tunes on the album, but every one is brilliant. The set opens with the wry humor of "Tombstone," wherein Moore recites various tongue-in-cheek epitaphs full of quick-witted wordplay. Quoting the lyrics at length would spoil the fun the tune delivers, but it's clear that Moore loves language and delights in tying the listener up in mischievous verbal knots. "Hard Times" is a protest song about, well, hard times, again delivered with a humor that doesn't mask the ache at the song's core. A rolling Mississippi John Hurt guitar line and a passing reference to Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" give the tune extra depth. "Everybody Dreams" is an existential love song with a delicate melody and a lyric full of ominous poetry; "Traveling On" is a talking blues with a pop melody that references Siddhartha; "Invisible Guy" brings to mind a saloon song from the '40s, a perfect black-and-white portrait of a man trying to catch the eye of an indifferent woman; while "I Can Make You Smile" tells the story of a beau trying to convince his gal to stay the course as her feelings begin to cool. Its gentle humor is leavened by the hopeless knowledge that love is gone. Moore's simple strumming is augmented by a subtle counter-melody played on the banjo. The closer, "All I Can Do Is Dance," is a three-chord rocker full of jaunty humor, played at the same low volume as the rest of the tunes. It brings the album to an energetic finish without breaking the record's pensive mood. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Folk Singer, Nathan Moore
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