John Moreland - Big Bad Luv
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Big Bad Luv (4AD, 2017)

John Moreland

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

John Moreland sings songs about love, mostly desperate love - like the variety sung of during The Band-esque "Love is Not an Answer" - on "Big Bad Luv." Via the latter, he confesses, "I don't need an answer/I need you." Yes, he wants love, but he needs connection.

Moreland's sound is more roots rock than traditional country, but it's nevertheless an appealing sonic stew. His backing band sounds a little The Grateful Dead-y during the rolling "Every Kind of Wrong," but he's an absolute vocal dead ringer for Bruce Springsteen during "Lies I Chose to Believe." He sings like a late-night confessor on this one, which features an arrangement straight out of "Tunnel of Love" era The Boss. Later, with "Ain't We Gold," he conjures up Los Lobos a tad.

"Big Bad Luv" hits its high point with "No Glory in Regret." Over a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, Moreland makes the intentional choice not to look back in anger. Instead, he lets out a "Bless our busted hearts," knowing full well that living with regrets is not truly living.

Love is a kind of scary monster, as Moreland's album title reaffirms, that humankind will likely never quite figure out. But with "Big Bad Luv," John Moreland seems set to die trying.


CDs by John Moreland

LP5, 2020 Big Bad Luv, 2017 High on Tulsa Heat, 2015


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