Sometimes you discover an album months or years after its release. I have to admit that I missed John Moreland’s Big Bad Luv’ last May. Americana is a genre I regularly come back to. John Moreland who was born in Tulsa (Oklahoma) has been around a while, first with The Black Gold Band (Endless Oklahoma Sky, 2008) and then solo has named Tom Petty, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle and Townes van Zandt as influential. (“My dad always listened to Tom Petty, Neil Young, stuff that dads like.”)
His music is very much influenced by his Oklahoma roots.
“This Oklahoma singer-songwriter writes songs that hurt. He wrings poetry from commonplace words and wisdom from dusty Midwestern country rock, chronicling tangled relationships and dead-end small towns, crushing regrets and dying hopes. These songs form a roadmap of emotional scars and bruises, but remarkably, Moreland never sounds grim or cynical.” (Uncut)
“Inspired by the genre-switching spirit of roots classics like Lucinda Williams‘ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road and Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, Big Bad Luv builds on Moreland’s morose acoustic balladry with country shuffles, straightforward rockers, garage-blues barnburners and light R&B sing-alongs.” (Rolling Stone)
“If we don’t bleed, it don’t feel like a song”, Uncut quotes Moreland.
Moreland has often been reviewed as someone playing mainly sad songs and critics concluded that Moreland must be a sad person.
“Mentally, I’ve been railing against that for a couple of years. I’ve adopted the mentality of ‘that’s bullshit, I’m not sad.’ I’m a real person who is sad sometimes, and happy other times, and that’s how it is,” he told The Rolling Stone.
However, singing Latchkey Kid on Big Bad Luv’, Moreland seems to have found some happiness:
So here I stand, right before you
Waiting for my turn to tow the line
Don’t let me die in California
While I’m dragging all these rivers in my mind
Cause I’ve found a love that shines into my core
And I don’t feel the need to prove myself no more
And when I look into the mirror, now I see
A man I never knew that I could be
John Moreland plays at the Stockholm Americana festival on June 16.