Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
t may have been a Thursday night, the traditional lead-off to the weekend for many, but for those looking for a party time of a concert in witnessing John Moreland, they would have been sorely disappointed.
Then again, it would have been on them because the Oklahoma singer/songwriter was his usual depressing self. Now, don't take that to mean that he's not a worthy performer. It's just that you're not going to be hearing much by way of positive vibes emanating from Moreland.
Despite the overarching throes of depression that engulfs and dominates Moreland's material, that also does not indicate he is not a good songwriter. Just the opposite. He is a true poet, melding words and phrases together to create images and emotions in song after song. His delivery, tending to be at a slower pace (save for "Oh Julia" and not many more), is more folk-based.
"I guess I can't let go until you wreck me completely," Moreland opines in "Break My Heart Sweetly."
Or in "God's Medicine": "And I don't know what I'm doing, hell I don't have a clue. But times like these, I forget why I quit loving."
The songs don't produce smiles, but they are words that cut deep.
Moreland's career has been on the upswing with Moreland selling out a room of about 350 after previously playing clubs attracting maybe 50 and 100 people on 2 previous appearances in the Boston area. Curiously, the heavily-tattooed Moreland didn't overhype his latest release, "Big Bad Luv," playing a handful of songs from his third release, which has done well on the Billboard Folk/Americana chart, further raising his profile.
While the crowds have changed, Moreland's M.O. has not. Not even marriage in the past year seems to have softened him up, at least lyrically. Moreland played solo acoustic sitting on a stool for the entire 70 minutes. He has been touring with a sideman, he said, but his mate had to return to Oklahoma to attend his brother's wedding.
Moreland didn't seem any worse for wear appearing solo versus two, although he said near the end that felt on the lost side on stage. Moreland also wasn't the biggest talker, keeping it to a minimum, seemingly letting his songs talk for him.
With weighty material to guide him, that wasn't so hard. For those on hand, the start of the weekend may have had to wait.