25 August 2019 (released)
18 September 2019
Perspective is one of the many tools in an artist's kit. A painter can paint an apple front and centre on an otherwise barren canvas or they can paint it in the hand of a porcelain maid across a farmhouse yard with ducks and geese swimming in the pond in the back while a mysterious neighbour gazes in longingly and storm clouds gather in the distance. Songwriters can play with depth in a similar way. The sophomoric among them may bemoan their current woes in a kind of bubble. Pining for their love and missed opportunities. The more mature songwriter will take a step back to view the whole picture, painting in people's conflicting passions and intentions with a more holistic view.
The latest release (the fourth in a year) by prolific singer-songwriter Todd Warner Moore is a study of human nature from a third perspective which has a genuine affection for peoples foibles and triumphs. He continues the tradition of Americana-style composition from his perch in Hong Kong. Starry Sounds may take some inspiration from the sea of neon in the mega-city's night sky but the mood of the album is 100% back porch in middle America, sitting back on the swing to spin a yarn on a warm, sleepy summer evening.
The title track kicks off the album casting a glowing sheen over the proceedings. A sparkling acoustic rings out suspended chords as Moore and backing vocalist Leah Hart duet about a moonlit night on the beach. An attempt to capture something of a perfect moment. After a few sauntering ditties accented by a welcoming fiddle, 'Starting Again' gets a little pep in its step. The get-up and go shuffle embodies the moving-on spirit, personified by an eager clarinet. The track has an air of Elliott Smith in his more optimistic moments.
Later in the album, 'Coffee Conversations' takes a look at modern dating and that oft-discussed merging of relationships with technology. Moore takes on a minor, sombre tone as if to mourn the death of the honest human connection. The lines offer various double meanings to echo the abundance and at the same time lack of communication in the current zeitgeist. In perhaps one of the most poignant lines, Moore quips:“You've traveled far inside your phone/You've found a way to stay together and alone.” In the chorus, his voice vaults up to a forlorn falsetto, placing him somewhere between Glen Hansard and Chris Martin.
Todd Warner Moore has released yet another wise Americana folk album. Starry Sounds is a warm, affecting portrait of modern living viewed through the eyes of an artist who values intrinsically meaningful moments. Something that is in short supply these days.