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Album Review

Shannon Moore is a songwriter who has done well in getting her work to the movies and television. She's recorded a previous album titled LTD that appeared on the tiny FMA label in 1999, but for all practical purposes, Evaporate is her true arrival. Issued by the newly launched Water Records' imprint 10 Spot, the album is a near stellar collection of original American rock and pop tunes written with grace, rough-hewn elegance and guts. Moore understands the nuances of the craft of songwriting and has been at it awhile. That Evaporate appears on the scene as an album by a fully developed artist isn't just a plus for her, it's a privilege for the great numbers of listeners who are continually inundated by dross, empty hype, and utterly vapid records by pretty boys and girls who will record anything put in front of them, or write songs without having any idea — experientially or professionally — of their subject matter or craft. Somewhat of a hubbub has been made of the similarity of Moore's voice to Chrissie Hynde's and Aimee Mann's. That is such a superficial observation that it really doesn't hold water. Moore's vocal phrasing is fluid, and it is all her own. She is a fine singer in her own right who understands how to stretch syllables and phrases without letting them disintegrate into breathiness; her words are delivered with a crystalline freshness. A number of producers (John Wood, Martin Feveryear and Marlon McLain) assisted in the construction of Evaporate, but with remarkably similar sounding results: one can only assume this has as much to do with Moore's sense of vision and control over her own project as it does theirs.

The title track which opens the album is a perfect single. Its slippery backbeat, the jangling electric guitar that accents Moore's percussive acoustic, the snap and crackle of the snare drum, and above all, that ringing 12-string sound that covers the refrain — all serve to accent the feeling of love and gratitude pouring like honey from her mouth into her Beloved's in a yearning and affirmative kiss of truth and commitment. Her refrain separates from her voice like oil from water and her bridge is a small dreamy wonder. "Quicksand"'s shimmering double-timed snare and open guitar jangle is a beautiful introduction for the brazenness of her first lines: "Like a ready tangerine/easy to peel open/ You can take me apart/with your eyes...Like a glass of water when it reaches my mouth/You awaken every sense in me..." Only to express caution in her refrain: "You are just a mirage/Just a mirage/I keep telling myself/I'm slipping into quicksand . . " Desire is easy; it can also be a liar. As the guitars shift and phase, her backing vocals cover her front lines and it all becomes a dreamy soundscape that is also a tight pop song. There is something retro about Moore's sound, one can be reminded of everything from Tom Petty in the '80s to the Beatles to the Bangles at their best. But Moore is a narrative songwriter who weaves everything from country to textured psychedelia into her songs, and it doesn't stop there. It comes off as smart rock & roll with a Mitch Easter pop feel. There isn't anything quirky or cute in her sound or her songs. They are straight-up tomes about life: its passions, stories, hopes, and disappointments. And in one way or another, even in tunes with a country lilt like "Angels Talk," there is such a class-act sheen to them. The polish isn't excessive, it's simply that her tunes are finished.

Her vocal range is used to fine effect in cuts like "Let It Go," with its lazy drum and guitar stroll until the rev-up in the refrain. Country radio being what it is in the 21st century would do well to consider "Who Am I Now" as a single and, because of its stunning imagery and its loose, backwoods, late-night feel, it would make for a great video. This cut in particular showcases the way Moore uses the economy of language as a device to propel the listener into her imagery. She sets scenes where the meaning can take root and project itself. The album closes with "Meltdown," a gorgeous pop song drenched in warm atmospherics courtesy of Alex Kane's trippy electric guitar playing, Chris Hockey's brushed drums, and the sparse moodiness of Arlan Schierbaum's B-3. "When everything breaks down and you don't have time to fix it/And nobody really seems to care/The water is gone and you're left gasping for air/And you melt down, meltdown, meltdown/Will you take me home, wherever that is? Will you take me home?..." That the set ends on a question mark is one of the most beautiful aspects of this little journey into the heart of life in all its small glories and scuffed episodes. The bottom line is that Evaporate is one smart, professional recording from an artist who isn't afraid of getting her hands dirty in order to keep her heart open. Evaporate is one of those great surprises from someone who understands the inherent everyday magic rock & roll can still bestow.


Born: Houston, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Singer and songwriter Shannon Moore, whose voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Chrissie Hynde's, crafts songs that are sharp and intelligent, full of unique observational detail and big themes, and she isn't afraid to get raw and controversial. Born and raised in Houston, Moore got her first guitar when she was ten years old, and by the time she was 12 she had already written her first song. After a stint at a boarding school in Massachusetts, Moore moved to Los Angeles to attend college, eventually...
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Evaporate, Shannon Moore
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